Possible immunoreactivity to chemically well-characterized mono- and diisocyanate protein conjugates was reevaluated in 15 workers with TDI asthma and 17 normal (nonexposed) volunteers. Lymphocytes of nine sensitive workers, were incubated with TDI human serum albumin (HSA) conjugates. Leucocyte inhibitory factor (LIF) was produced. Leucocyte inhibitory factor was also induced by hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) protein conjugates in four of these workers who had no prior history of exposure to HDI. Disappearance of TDI- and HDI-induced LIF was noted in several sensitive workers who were removed from further TDI exposure. Three LIF-positive workers also demonstrated positive intracutaneous reactivity to TDI-HSA. One worker had a markedly positive RAST(25.5% binding) to a monofunctional (p-tolyl isocyanate) protein reagent. These studies suggest that isocyanates have the potential for eliciting heterogeneous immune responses in certain subpopulations of exposed workers. Continued contact with isocyanates may be necessary for maintenance of specific immunity. Possible cross reactivity between TDI and HDI may be determined by new antigenic sites created by isocyanate protein interactions.
©1981 The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine