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Increased Serum Levels of Soluble ST2 in Birch Pollen Atopics and Individuals Working in Laboratory Animal Facilities

Sahlander, Karin MSc; Larsson, Kjell MD, PhD; Palmberg, Lena MD, PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2010 - Volume 52 - Issue 2 - p 214-218
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181d09868
Original Articles

Objective: To investigate toll-like receptors and CD14 expression on blood cells, cytokine profile of blood T-helper cells and serum levels of soluble suppression of tumorigenicity 2 (sST2) and sCD14 in 27 symptomatic laboratory animal (LA) workers with positive (n = 19) or negative (n = 8) skin-prick test to LA, 12 birch pollen atopics and 11 non-atopic controls not exposed to LA.

Methods: Surface markers and intracellular cytokines were measured with flow cytometry and sST2 and sCD14 with ELISA.

Results: The group who experienced symptoms when working with LA, with positive and negative skin-prick test to LA, had higher CD14 expression on monocytes compared with those allergic to birch and controls. Further, serum sST2 were elevated in birch atopics and in symptomatics non-allergic to LA compared with controls.

Conclusion: Increased CD14 expression found in LA workers is most likely a response to non-allergic agent exposure whereas ST2 seems to react to acute allergen exposure and to non-allergic stimuli as pathogen-associated molecular patterns.

From the Lung and Allergy Research, National Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

This work was supported by Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation, Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association and Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research.

Address correspondence to: Karin Sahlander, MSc, Lung and Allergy Research, National Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, P.O. Box 287, SE-17177 Stockholm, Sweden; E-mail:

©2010The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine