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Phenotypic differences and similarities in the spectrum of occupational asthma (OA) subtypes reflect the underlying mechanisms of the diverse forms of the disease, and these phenotypes provide information as to diagnostic steps and approaches to management. In large part, the phenotype reflects the existence of immunologic mechanisms and the presence or absence of a specific IgE-antibody response to a work sensitizer. However, further differences occur between OA from high- and low-molecular-weight sensitizers (chemical sensitizers), which potentially might be relevant for nonoccupational asthma. Chemical sensitizers cause a specific response that is more likely to be a late asthmatic response and specific IgE can be identified only in a minority. Irritant-induced asthma is most easily recognized when it occurs with 1 or more high-level respiratory irritant exposure(s) but is also possible with chronic low-level exposures as in cleaners, farmers, and woodworkers, as suggested from epidemiologic studies. OA chronic obstructive pulmonary disease overlap is more common in older patients and with OA from low-molecular-weight sensitizers. Removal from exposure to the causative agent is currently advised for those with OA from sensitization: further studies with omalizumab and other biologic agents are needed to determine whether these might allow return to the same exposure. Copyright © 2020 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Susan M Tarlo, Santiago Quirce. Impact of Identification of Clinical Phenotypes in Occupational Asthma. The journal of allergy and clinical immunology. In practice. 2020 Nov - Dec;8(10):3277-3282

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PMID: 32561498

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