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We have studied asthma caused by inhaled acid anhydrides as a model of hapten-induced airway hyperresponsiveness. Inhalation tests with the relevant anhydride in sensitised individuals reproducibly provoked a significant increase in non-specific airway responsiveness identifiable 3 h after the test and prior to the development of the late asthmatic reaction. Seven cases of asthma caused by tetrachlorophthalic anhydride (TCPA) had specific IgE in their serum to a TCPA-human serum albumin conjugate. RAST inhibition studies showed the anhydride to be involved in the antibody-combining site. Survey of the factory population where these 7 cases worked allowed investigation of the determinants of the specific IgE response: its presence was associated with intensity of exposure and current cigarette smoking; in addition smoking interacted with atopy to increase the prevalence of specific IgE. During a 5-year period of avoidance of exposure to TCPA specific IgE declined exponentially with a half-life of one year, suggesting continuing IgE secretion. Five years after avoidance of exposure, airway hyperresponsiveness remained increased in several cases.


Journal article


Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol

Publication Date





435 - 439


Anhydrides, Asthma, Bronchial Provocation Tests, Bronchial Spasm, Haptens, Histamine, Humans, Hypersensitivity, Immediate, Immunoglobulin E, Occupational Diseases, Smoking, Structure-Activity Relationship