Change in airway inflammatory markers in Danish energy plant workers during a working week

Introduction: It is well known that exposure to organic dust can cause adverse respiratory effect. The pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPS) in the organic dust, such as endotoxin from Gram-negative bacteria cell wall and fungal components, can trigger the release of cytokine (e.g. Interleukin 1 beta (IL-1 beta)) and chemokine (e.g. Interleukin 8 (IL-8)) from the immune cells in the airways. Objective: To evaluate the potential inflammatory effects of organic dust exposure in energy plants in Denmark. Materials and methods: Nasal lavage (NAL) and exhaled breath condensate (EBC) were sampled at Monday morning (referred to as before work) and again at Thursday afternoon (referred to as after work). NAL IL-8, EBC pH, IL-1 beta concentration were measured. Personal exposure to endotoxin and dust was calculated from time spent on different tasks and measured average work area exposures. Results: Before work, workers from biofuel plants had a higher IL-1 beta and IL-8 concentration compared to conventional fuel plants (control group). Specifically, the IL-1 beta level of moderately and most exposed group, and IL-8 level of the least exposed group were higher compared to the control group. The changes of IL-1 beta, pH and IL-8 during a work week were not significant. Workers with rhinitis had a lower percentage change of IL-8 compared to healthy workers. Conclusions: An increased level of EBC IL-1 beta in biofuel energy plant workers before work indicated a chronic or sub-chronic inflammation. The percentage change of IL-8 was lower in workers with rhinitis compared to healthy workers.

Source: Zheng YD, Schlunssen V, Bonlokke J, et al. Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Médicine, 2014, 21 (3), p. 534-40. 

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