Plicatic acid-specific IgE and nonspecific bronchial hyperresponsiveness in western red-cedar workers

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1986 Dec;78(6):1103-9. doi: 10.1016/0091-6749(86)90257-5.


In a cross-sectional survey of 652 workers in a western red-cedar sawmill, we obtained data on symptoms, pulmonary function, immediate skin reactivity to common allergens, nonspecific bronchial responsiveness, total IgE level, and sensitization to plicatic acid conjugated with human serum albumin as measured by RAST. Dust exposure was estimated by personal and area sampling for total dust during a work shift and cumulative exposure by duration of employment. Seven percent of the workers had an elevated RAST, and 20% had nonspecific bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Elevation in RAST was associated with bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Almost half (46%) of the workers with RAST elevation had bronchial hyperresponsiveness compared to 18% in workers with no RAST elevation. The association was unaffected by total IgE level or by limiting the analysis to workers without respiratory symptoms and was most apparent in younger workers. Bronchial hyperresponsiveness was associated with increased prevalence of respiratory symptoms as well as with lower levels of pulmonary function. The likelihood of bronchial hyperresponsiveness increased with increasing age but was unrelated to the dust-exposure concentration. RAST elevation was unrelated to employment duration or dust exposure and was not associated with an increased prevalence of symptoms or lower levels of pulmonary function independent of bronchial hyperresponsiveness. We conclude that plicatic acid-specific IgE and nonspecific bronchial hyperresponsiveness are associated in western red-cedar workers and that this association may reflect a causal connection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Bronchi / physiopathology*
  • Dust / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology*
  • Lignans*
  • Male
  • Methacholine Compounds / pharmacology
  • Naphthols / immunology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / immunology
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology
  • Radioallergosorbent Test
  • Respiratory Function Tests


  • Dust
  • Lignans
  • Methacholine Compounds
  • Naphthols
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • plicatic acid