Occupational Asthma Reference

Nieuwenhuizen N, Lopata AL, Jeebhay MF, Herbert DR, Robins TG, Brombacher F, Detection of fish antigens aerosolized during fish processing using newly developed immunoassays, Int Arch Allergy Immunol, 2005;138:21-28,


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Mohammed Jeebhay, Cape Town Mohammed Jeebhay

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BACKGROUND: Aerosolization of fish proteins during seafood processing has been identified as a potential route for allergic sensitization and occupational asthma among workers involved in high-risk activities. The aim of this study was to develop immunological assays for the quantification of aerosolized fish antigens in a fish-processing factory.

METHODS: Polyclonal antibodies to the main fish species processed in the factory (anchovy and pilchard) were generated in rabbits and compared by ELISA inhibition assay and immunoblotting. These antisera were utilized to develop ELISA assays for the detection of fish antigens. The ELISA inhibition assays were evaluated by analyzing environmental air samples collected from three areas in a fish-processing factory: pilchard canning, fish meal production and lobster processing.

RESULTS: By immunoblotting, the rabbit polyclonal antibodies demonstrated IgG antibody binding patterns comparable with IgE antibodies of fish-sensitized patients, particularly in regard to the major fish allergens parvalbumins. The sensitivity of the fish-specific ELISA assays developed was 0.5 microg/ml. The ELISA inhibition assays were able to differentiate between the two different fish species of interest but did not recognize a crustacean species. Notable differences in exposure levels to canned pilchard and anchovy antigens were demonstrated in the three different working areas of the factory, with assays having a detection limit as low as 105 ng/m(3).

CONCLUSION: These ELISA-based assays are sensitive and specific to quantify differential exposure levels to fish antigens produced during fish processing, making it possible to investigate exposure-disease response relationships among workers in this industry

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