Lower respiratory symptoms in bakery workers may be induced by wheat flour and endotoxins. We hypothesized that endotoxins from wheat flour may stimulate innate immunity and that interleukin-18 (IL-18) gene polymorphisms may affect their regulatory role in innate immune responses to endotoxins. To investigate the genetic contribution of IL-18 to sensitization to wheat flour, we performed a genetic association study of IL-18 in Korean bakery workers. A total of 373 bakery workers undertook a questionnaire regarding work-related symptoms. Skin prick tests with common and occupational allergens were performed and specific antibodies to wheat flour were measured by ELISA. Three polymorphisms of the IL-18 gene (-607A/C, -137G/C, 8674C/G) were genotyped, and the functional effects of the polymorphisms were analyzed using the luciferase reporter assay. Genotypes of -137G/C (GC or CC) and haplotype ht3 [ACC] showed a significant association with the rate of sensitization to wheat flour. Luciferase activity assay indicated ht3 [AC] as a low transcript haplotype. In conclusion, the regulatory role of IL-18 in lipopolysaccharide-induced responses in bakery workers may be affected by this polymorphism, thus contributing to the development of sensitization to wheat flour and work-related respiratory symptoms.
- Wheat flour
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