Changes in cellular immunity among workers occupationally exposed to styrene in a plastics lamination plant

Tulinska, J.; Dusinska, M.; Jahnova, E.; Liskova, A.; Kuricova, M.; Vodicka, P.; Vodickova, L.; Sulcova, M.; Fuortes, L.

American Journal of Industrial Medicine 38(5): 576-583


ISSN/ISBN: 0271-3586
PMID: 11025499
DOI: 10.1002/1097-0274(200011)38:5<576::aid-ajim10>;2-f
Accession: 010293117

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Background: Styrene is a widely used industrial chemical. Immune and hematological parameters were examined in 29 hand laminators and sprayers exposed to styrene for an average of 14 years and in 19 in-factory unexposed controls. The workers performed hand lamination procedures in a production area with an average area airborne styrene level of 139.5 mg/m3. Mean concentration of styrene in the blood of exposed workers was 945.7 mug/L and the mean styrene in exhaled air was 38.8 mug/L. Methods: Parameters of internal and external exposure, immune function assays, immunoglobulins, acute phase reactants and hematology were evaluated in exposed and non-exposed populations. Results: Using multifactorial analysis of variance we found a significant decrease in proliferation of lymphocytes stimulated by Concanavalin A but not by pokeweed mitogen (PWM) in workers occupationally exposed to styrene. Proliferative response to PWM was significantly correlated with the levels of styrene in blood. Phagocytic activity of monocytes, levels of IgG, IgA, IgM, IgE and alpha-2-macroglobulin in serum were indistinguishable in the two groups. The population exposed to styrene had increased levels of C4-component of complement. Levels of C3-component of complement were positively correlated with duration of exposure. A significant elevation in the percentage and number of monocytes and a significantly decreased number of lymphocytes were seen in exposed workers. Styrene concentrations in both blood and exhaled air were associated with decreased percentage of large granular lymphocytes. Conclusions: These results suggest immune alterations of cell-mediated immune response of T-lymphocytes and imbalance in leucocyte subsets in peripheral blood of workers exposed to styrene.