Background: Bakery workers are exposed to flour allergens and endotoxins, which interact to induce allergic responses and respiratory symptoms. We hypothesized that Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) may be involved in the development of work-related respiratory symptoms and sensitization to wheat flour. Objective: To investigate the genetic contribution of TLR4 to respiratory symptoms and sensitization to wheat flour in bakery workers, we performed a genetic association study of TLR4 in Korean bakery workers. Methods: A total of 381 workers completed a questionnaire regarding work-related symptoms. Skin prick tests with common and occupational allergens were done, and specific antibodies to wheat flour were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the TLR4 gene (-2027A>G and -1608T>C) were genotyped, and the functional effects of the polymorphisms were analyzed using the luciferase reporter and electrophoretic mobility shift assay. Results: Homozygotes for the -2027G and -1608C alleles exhibited a lower prevalence of work-related lower respiratory symptoms than carriers of the -2027AA/AG (P = .007) and -1608TT/TC (P =.021) genotypes. Furthermore, haplotype analysis indicated that workers with the haplotype 2, ht2 [GC], had fewer work-related lower respiratory symptoms (P = .021). The ht2 [GC] construct showed lower promoter activity than the haplotype 1, ht1[AT], in both BEAS-2B (P = .001) and U937 cells (P = .007). Conclusion: Bakery workers carrying the TLR4 variants are at lower risk of developing work-related chest symptoms. This finding suggests that the TLR4 gene may be involved in allergic sensitization to wheat flour as well as endotoxin-induced respiratory symptoms in endotoxin-allergenexposed workers and that carriers of TLR4 variants are less affected by environmental exposure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine