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Biological occupational allergy: Protein microarray for the study of laboratory animal allergy (LAA)

1 Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Epidemiology and Hygiene, Italian Workers’ Compensation Authority (INAIL), Monte Porzio Catone (Rome), Italy
2 Santa Lucia Foundation (FSL), Rome, Italy
3 Associated Centers for Molecular Allergology, Rome, Italy; Center for Molecular Allergology, IDI-IRCCS, Rome, Italy
4 Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Epidemiology and Hygiene, Italian Workers’ Compensation Authority (INAIL), Rome, Italy
5 Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), Rome, Italy
6 Cellular Biology and Neurobiology Institute, National Research Council of Italy (CNR), Rome, Italy

topical section: Environmental and Occupational Health

Background: Laboratory Animal Allergy (LAA) has been considered a risk for the workers since 1989 by the NIOSH. About one third of the Laboratory Animal Workers (LAWs) can manifest symptoms to LAA as asthma, rhinitis, conjunctivitis and cutaneous reactions. The prevalence of LAA-induced clinical symptoms has been estimated with a great variability (4–44%) also due to the different methodologies applied. Objective: Evaluate the prevalence of IgE positivity to mouse and rat allergens in LAWs and assess which factors are predisposing to sensitization among subjects exposed to laboratory animals in the workplace. Methods: One hundred LAWs were invited to fill out a questionnaire regarding current allergic symptoms, atopic history, home environment, previous and current occupational history. IgE reactivity versus specific allergens was evaluated with ImmunoCAP ISAC. Results: Out of one hundred LAWs, 18% had a serum susceptibility to mouse and/or rat allergens and 42% reported to have occupational allergy symptoms. Combining the results acquired by ImmunoCAP ISAC and questionnaire, 17% of LAWs have been defined as LAWs-LAA positive since they present a positive IgE response and allergy symptoms, 1% LAWs-LAA sensitized, 25% LAWs-LAA symptomatic and 57% LAWs-LAA negative. Presence of previous allergy symptoms in work and life environment were significantly related to LAWs-LAA positive/sensitized. Conclusions: The study aimed to define the immunological profile of LAWs using the proteomic array as an innovative approach in the study of environmental and occupational exposure to allergens. We suggested a definition of LAWs-LAA considering serum IgE response and presence of allergy symptoms. The proposed approach has the advantage to provide a standard methodology for evaluating the specific IgE responsiveness to animal allergens in specific workplace also considering the immunological profile of workers referred to exposure in life and occupational environment.
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