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by Lygia Therese Budnik, Alexandra M. Preisser, Hjalmar Permentier, Xaver Baur (Int Arch Occup Environ Health).

PURPOSE: Early recognition improves the prognosis of isocyanate asthma. A major unanswered question is whether IgE-dependent mechanisms are of diagnostic value? Our objective was to appraise serological methods using various methylenediphenyl diisocyanate (MDI)-albumin conjugates and weigh up the data versus the outcome of standardized comprehensive clinical diagnostics to evaluate the viability of immunological analysis in supportive MDI-asthma diagnosis (OAI).

METHODS: Specific IgE (sIgE) and IgG (sIgG) binding was measured with fluorescence enzyme immunoassay in 43 study subjects (using conjugates prepared in-vapor, in-solution and commercial preparations). The differential clinical diagnosis included standardized measurement of pulmonary function, non-specific bronchial hyper-responsiveness, specific MDI-prick test (MDI-SPT) and specific inhalation challenge (MDI-SIC). 

RESULTS: Detailed diagnostic scheme allows the differential OAI and MDI-induced hypersensitivity pneumonitis (PI). The presumed OAI diagnoses were confirmed in 84 % (45 % cases having demonstrable sIgE antibodies) with RR 5.7, P > 0.001, when OAI diagnosis is correlated with MDI-SIC/MDI-SPT (RR 1.28 for MDI-SIC alone); sIgG antibodies were clinically relevant for PI and not for the OA diagnosis. MDI-specific IgE data generated with commercial ImmunoCAP preparations show high correlation with our in-vapor generated MDI conjugates. 

CONCLUSIONS: Isocyanate-specific IgE antibodies are not always detectable but their presence is strongly predictive of OAI and supportive for the diagnosis. MDI-SPT can be a valuable parameter differentiating OAI and PI. We have confirmed and extended published data showing that isocyanate-albumin conjugates perform better in specific antibody assays when prepared with volatile phase formulations and would like to stress additionally the necessity for further refinements and standardization in clinical diagnostics procedures.