Specific serum antibodies against isocyanates: association with occupational asthma

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1989 Oct;84(4 Pt 1):507-14. doi: 10.1016/0091-6749(89)90364-3.


Although increased levels of specific IgE and/or IgG antibodies have been documented in individual cases of occupational asthma caused by common types of isocyanates (hexamethylene diisocyanate [HDI] and diphenylmethane diisocyanate [MDI]), the frequency among workers with occupational asthma is still unknown. The sera of 62/65 workers referred for specific inhalation challenges with isocyanates were analyzed for the presence of specific antibodies to the relevant isocyanate. Most workers (39, 63%) were exposed to HDI, some to MDI (17, 27%), and a few to toluene diisocyanate (six, 10%). Specific inhalation challenges were positive in 29 subjects, eliciting either immediate (seven), early late (two), late (13), or dual (seven) reactions. Specific inhalation challenges were more often positive in those subjects with increased nonspecific bronchial responsiveness. Twenty-nine subjects demonstrated increased levels of specific IgE and/or IgG antibodies to isocyanates in the absence of antibodies against human serum albumin (increased IgE only, no subject; IgG only, 20; both IgE and IgG, nine subjects). Although there was a loose association between the results of specific inhalation challenges and levels of specific IgE, the association was much better with the level of specific IgG. Indeed, 21 of the 29 subjects (72%) with positive challenges had increased levels of specific IgG, whereas 25 of the 33 subjects (76%) with negative challenges had normal levels of antibodies. The association was significant with both HDI and MDI. The levels of antibodies were not significantly associated with the type of temporal reaction.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies / analysis*
  • Asthma / chemically induced
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Cyanates / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Isocyanates*
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Skin Tests


  • Antibodies
  • Cyanates
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Isocyanates
  • 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • 4,4'-diphenylmethane diisocyanate