Many farmers experience chronic bronchitis, airflow obstruction, and asthma. It is thought that these respiratory problems may be related to workplace inhalation of organic dust containing endotoxin. The purpose of this study was to determine whether whole blood cytokine responsiveness to endotoxin is associated with airflow disorders (i.e., airflow obstruction, chronic bronchitis, and doctor-diagnosed asthma). Farmers (N = 95) were recruited from a rural cohort study and completed a respiratory symptom and history questionnaire, spirometry, and blood sampling. Blood was incubated 24 hours in the presence and absence of endotoxin and supernatants were analyzed for TNF-α, IL-1ß, IL-6, and IL-8. Hypo- or hyper-responsiveness to endotoxin was based on whether cytokine values were in the lower or upper 10% of the group range, respectively. A significant association existed between TNF-α hyper-responsiveness and chronic bronchitis. These results indicate that the whole blood cytokine assay may be useful to identify individual responsiveness to endotoxin, and may provide an additional diagnostic tool to evaluate persons potentially at risk for developing chronic bronchitis following exposure to organic dust in the workplace.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health