Effect of metalworking fluid mist exposure on cross-shift decrement in peak expiratory flow.
Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) was identified among employees in an automobile parts manufacturing facility. Mycobacteria immunogenum (MI) was identified as a metal removal fluid (MRF) contaminant at this facility and had been identified as a contaminant in other facilities where HP had occurred. We therefore questioned whether measurement of MI-specific cell-mediated immunity would be associated with HP in this facility. We also questioned whether measures of cell-mediated immunity would be more informative about the presence of HP than evaluation of serum anti-MI antibody levels. Workers were categorized for exposure and disease status by questionnaire and review of medical records. Cell-mediated immunity to MI was assessed by measuring in vitro secretion of cytokines (interleukin 8, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and interferon-gamma) from peripheral blood mononuclear cells or anticoagulated whole blood induced by culture with MI antigen. Serum antibodies against MI were also measured. Six study participants met our survey definition for HP and 48 did not. As has been reported for various agents causing HP, serum antibody levels against MI were increased in both exposed workers and workers with HP. Serum antibodies did not distinguish between the two. When expressed as a percentage of secretion induced by lipopolysaccharide, MI induced a significant increase in interleukin-8 secretion in exposed participants' whole blood cultures. There were trends for increased MI-induced secretion of interferon-gamma by peripheral blood mononuclear cells from both exposed workers and workers with HP. However, these trends did not attain statistical significance. Thus, several measures of immunity to MI distinguished between exposed and unexposed workers but not between workers with and without HP. These evaluations of cell-mediated immunity were not more informative than measurement of serum antibodies. As was done at this facility, institution of a comprehensive safety and health plan for MRF is necessary to eliminate (or minimize) health effects related to occupational exposures in the machining environment.