N-hexane neuropathy in offset printers

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1993 May;56(5):538-42. doi: 10.1136/jnnp.56.5.538.


In an offset printing factory with 56 workers, 20 (36%) developed symptomatic peripheral neuropathy due to exposure to n-hexane. Another 26 workers (46%) were found to have subclinical neuropathy. The initial change in the nerve conduction study was reduced amplitude of the sensory action potentials, followed by reduced amplitude of the motor action potentials, reduction in motor conduction velocities and increase in distal latencies. These changes indicate primary axonal degeneration with secondary demyelination. Sural nerve biopsy in a severe case showed giant axonal swellings due to accumulation of 10nm neurofilaments, myelin sheath attenuation and widening of nodal gaps. The development of neuropathy bore no direct relationship to the duration of exposure, hence factors such as individual susceptibility may be important. Optic neuropathy and CNS involvement were uncommon and autonomic neuropathy was not encountered.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Axons / drug effects
  • Demyelinating Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Demyelinating Diseases / diagnosis
  • Demyelinating Diseases / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Hexanes / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nerve Degeneration / drug effects*
  • Neural Conduction / drug effects
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Occupational Health
  • Printing*
  • Sural Nerve / drug effects
  • Sural Nerve / physiopathology
  • Sural Nerve / ultrastructure


  • Hexanes