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1.  Factors affecting variability in the urinary biomarker 1,6-hexamethylene diamine in workers exposed to 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate 
Although urinary 1,6-hexamethylene diamine (HDA) is a useful biomarker of exposure to 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI), a large degree of unexplained intra- and inter-individual variability exists between estimated HDI exposure and urine HDA levels. We investigated the effect of individual and workplace factors on urine HDA levels using quantitative dermal and inhalation exposure data derived from a survey of automotive spray painters exposed to HDI. Painters' dermal and breathing-zone HDI-exposures were monitored over an entire workday for up to three separate workdays, spaced approximately one month apart. One urine sample was collected before the start of work with HDI-containing paints, and multiple samples were collected throughout the workday. Using mixed effects multiple linear regression modeling, coverall use resulted in significantly lower HDA levels (p = 0.12), and weekday contributed to significant variability in HDA levels (p = 0.056). We also investigated differences in urine HDA levels stratified by dichotomous and classification covariates using analysis of variance. Use of coveralls (p = 0.05), respirator type worn (p = 0.06), smoker status (p = 0.12), paint-booth type (p = 0.02), and more than one painter at the shop (p = 0.10) were all found to significantly affect urine HDA levels adjusted for creatinine concentration. Coverall use remained significant (p = 0.10), even after adjusting for respirator type. These results indicate that the variation in urine HDA level is mainly due to workplace factors and that appropriate dermal and inhalation protection is required to prevent HDI exposure.
PMCID: PMC4124595  PMID: 20978689
2.  Quantitative Plasma Biomarker Analysis in HDI Exposure Assessment 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;54(1):41-54.
Quantification of amines in biological samples is important for evaluating occupational exposure to diisocyanates. In this study, we describe the quantification of 1,6-hexamethylene diamine (HDA) levels in hydrolyzed plasma of 46 spray painters applying 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI)-containing paint in vehicle repair shops collected during repeated visits to their workplace and their relationship with dermal and inhalation exposure to HDI monomer. HDA was detected in 76% of plasma samples, as heptafluorobutyryl derivatives, and the range of HDA concentrations was ≤0.02–0.92 μg l−1. After log-transformation of the data, the correlation between plasma HDA levels and HDI inhalation exposure measured on the same workday was low (N = 108, r = 0.22, P = 0.026) compared with the correlation between plasma HDA levels and inhalation exposure occurring ∼20 to 60 days before blood collection (N = 29, r = 0.57, P = 0.0014). The correlation between plasma HDA levels and HDI dermal exposure measured on the same workday, although statistically significant, was low (N = 108, r = 0.22, P = 0.040) while the correlation between HDA and dermal exposure occurring ∼20 to 60 days before blood collection was slightly improved (N = 29, r = 0.36, P = 0.053). We evaluated various workplace factors and controls (i.e. location, personal protective equipment use and paint booth type) as modifiers of plasma HDA levels. Workers using a downdraft-ventilated booth had significantly lower plasma HDA levels relative to semi-downdraft and crossdraft booth types (P = 0.0108); this trend was comparable to HDI inhalation and dermal exposure levels stratified by booth type. These findings indicate that HDA concentration in hydrolyzed plasma may be used as a biomarker of cumulative inhalation and dermal exposure to HDI and for investigating the effectiveness of exposure controls in the workplace.
PMCID: PMC2802519  PMID: 19805392
biomarker; dermal exposure; 1,6-hexamethylene diamine (HDA); 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI); inhalation exposure; plasma
3.  Occupational Exposure to HDI: Progress and Challenges in Biomarker Analysis 
1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) is extensively used in the automotive repair industry and is a commonly reported cause of occupational asthma in industrialized populations. However, the exact pathological mechanism remains uncertain. Characterization and quantification of biomarkers resulting from HDI exposure can fill important knowledge gaps between exposure, susceptibility, and the rise of immunological reactions and sensitization leading to asthma. Here, we discuss existing challenges in HDI biomarker analysis including the quantification of N-acetyl-1,6-hexamethylene diamine (monoacetyl-HDA) and N,N′-diacetyl-1,6-hexamethylene diamine (diacetyl-HDA) in urine samples based on previously established methods for HDA analysis. In addition, we describe the optimization of reaction conditions for the synthesis of monoacetyl-HDA and diacetyl-HDA, and utilize these standards for the quantification of these metabolites in the urine of three occupationally exposed workers. Diacetyl-HDA was present in untreated urine at 0.015 – 0.060 μg/l. Using base hydrolysis, the concentration range of monoacetyl-HDA in urine was 0.19 – 2.2 μg/l, 60-fold higher than in the untreated samples on average. HDA was detected only in one sample after base hydrolysis (0.026 μg/l). In contrast, acid hydrolysis yielded HDA concentrations ranging from 0.36 to 10.1 μg/l in these three samples. These findings demonstrate HDI metabolism via N-acetylation metabolic pathway and protein adduct formation resulting from occupational exposure to HDI.
PMCID: PMC2889189  PMID: 20176515
1,6-hexamethylene diamine (HDA); biomarker; 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI); diisocyanate-induced asthma
4.  Dermal, inhalation, and internal exposure to 1,6‐HDI and its oligomers in car body repair shop workers and industrial spray painters 
To study inhalation and dermal exposure to hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) and its oligomers as well as personal protection equipment (PPE) use during task performance in conjunction with urinary hexamethylene diamine (HDA) in car body repair shop workers and industrial spray painters.
Personal task based inhalation samples (n = 95) were collected from six car body repair shops and five industrial painting companies using impingers with di‐n‐butylamine (DBA) in toluene. In parallel, dermal exposure was assessed using nitril rubber gloves. Gloves were submerged into DBA in toluene after sampling. Analysis for HDI and its oligomers was performed by LC‐MS/MS. Urine samples were collected from 55 workers (n = 291) and analysed for HDA by GC‐MS.
Inhalation exposure was strongly associated with tasks during which aerosolisation occurs. Dermal exposure occurred during tasks that involve direct handling of paint. In car body repair shops associations were found between detectable dermal exposure and glove use (odds ratio (OR) 0.22, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.09 to 0.57) and inhalation exposure level (OR 1.34, 95% CI 0.97 to 1.84 for a 10‐fold increase). HDA in urine could be demonstrated in 36% and 10% of car body repair shop workers and industrial painting company workers respectively. In car body repair shops, the frequency of detectable HDA was significantly elevated at the end of the working day (OR 2.13, 95% CI 1.07 to 4.22 for 3–6 pm v 0–8 am). In both branches HDA was detected in urine of ∼25% of the spray painters. In addition HDA was detected in urine of a large proportion of non‐spray painters in car body repair shops.
Although (spray) painting with lacquers containing isocyanate hardeners results in the highest external exposures to HDI and oligomers, workers that do not perform paint related tasks may also receive a considerable internal dose.
PMCID: PMC2078164  PMID: 16728504
isocyanate; oligomers; dermal; biomonitoring; spray painting
5.  Hemoglobin adducts in workers exposed to 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate 
We investigated the utility of 1,6-hexamethylene diamine (HDA) hemoglobin adducts as biomarkers of exposure to 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) monomer. Blood samples from 15 spray painters applying HDI-containing paint were analyzed for hemoglobin HDA (HDA-Hb) and N-acetyl-1,6-hexamethylene diamine (monoacetyl-HDA-Hb) by GC-MS. HDA-Hb was detected in the majority of workers (≤1.2–37 ng/g Hb), whereas monoacetyl-HDA-Hb was detected in one worker (0.06 ng/g Hb). The stronger, positive association between HDA-Hb and cumulative HDI exposure (r2 = 0.3, p < 0.06) than same day exposure (p ≥ 0.13) indicates long-term elimination kinetics for HDA-Hb adducts. This association demonstrates the suitability of HDA-Hb adducts for further validation as a biomarker of HDI exposure.
PMCID: PMC4174272  PMID: 21506697
1,6-hexamethylene diamine (HDA); hemoglobin; adduct; biomarker; 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI)
6.  Biological monitoring to assess exposure from use of isocyanates in motor vehicle repair 
OBJECTIVES: To develop a method for the measurement of a metabolite of hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI), an isocyanate, and use it to assess the exposure of sprayers employed in motor vehicle repair shops. METHODS: Urine samples were taken from sprayers wearing personal protective equipment and spraying in booths or with local exhaust ventilation, from bystanders, and from unexposed subjects. Samples were analyzed for a metabolite of HDI, hexamethylene diamine (HDA), by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). RESULTS: HDA was detected in four sprayers and one bystander out of 22 workers. No HDA was detected in the urine of unexposed subjects. CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to isocyanates still occurs despite the use of personal protective equipment and the use of a booth or extracted space. Health surveillance is likely to be required to provide feedback on the adequacy of controls even if such precautions are used and to identify cases of early asthma. Biological monitoring can provide a useful additional tool to assess exposure and the adequacy of controls in this group of exposed workers.
PMCID: PMC1757787  PMID: 10615291
7.  Quantification and Statistical Modeling—Part II: Dermal Concentrations of Monomeric and Polymeric 1,6-Hexamethylene Diisocyanate 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(7):691-702.
We conducted a quantitative dermal and inhalation exposure assessment of monomeric and polymeric 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanates (HDI) in 47 automotive spray painters from North Carolina and Washington State. We report here the use of linear mixed modeling (LMM) to identify the primary determinants of dermal exposure. Dermal concentrations of HDI, uretidone, biuret, and isocyanurate were significantly higher in 15 painters who did not wear coveralls or gloves (N = 51 paint tasks) than in 32 painters who did wear coveralls and gloves (N = 192 paint tasks) during spray painting. Regardless of whether protective clothing was worn, isocyanurate was the predominant species measured in the skin [geometric mean (GM) = 33.8 ng mm−3], with a 95% detection rate. Other polyisocyanates (GM ≤ 0.17 ng mm−3) were detected in skin during <23% of the paint tasks. According to marginal R2 statistics, mixed models generated in this study described no <36% of the variability in dermal concentrations of the different polyisocyanates measured in painters who did not wear protective clothing. These models also described 55% of the variability in dermal concentrations of isocyanurate measured in all painters (N = 288 paint tasks). The product of analyte-specific breathing-zone concentration (BZC) and paint time was the most significant variable in all the models. Through LMM, a better understanding of the exposure pathways governing individual polyisocyanate exposures may be achieved. In particular, we were able to establish a link between BZC and dermal concentration, which may be useful for exposure reconstruction and quantitatively characterizing the protective effect of coveralls and gloves. This information can be used to reduce dermal exposures and better protect automotive spray painters from potential adverse health effects.
PMCID: PMC2758669  PMID: 19635734
dermal exposure; exposure determinants; hexamethylene diisocyanate; isocyanate; statistical modeling
8.  Biomonitoring Hexamethylene Diisocyanate (HDI) Exposure Based on Serum Levels of HDI-Specific IgG 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2012;56(8):901-910.
Isocyanate chemicals essential for polyurethane production are widely used industrially, and are increasingly found in consumer products. Asthma and other adverse health effects of isocyanates are well-documented and exposure surveillance is crucial to disease prevention. Hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI)-specific serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) was evaluated as an exposure biomarker among workers at a US Air Force Air Logistics Center, which includes a large aircraft maintenance facility.
HDI-specific IgG (HDI-IgG) titers in serum samples (n = 74) were measured using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay based upon the biuret form of HDI conjugated to human albumin. Information on personal protective equipment (PPE), work location/tasks, smoking, asthma history, basic demographics, and HDI skin exposure was obtained through questionnaire.
HDI-specific serum IgG levels were elevated in n = 17 (23%) of the workers studied. The prevalence and/or end-titer of the HDI-IgG was significantly (P < 0.05) associated with specific job titles, self-reported skin exposure, night-shift work, and respirator use, but not atopy, asthma, or other demographic information. The highest titers were localized to specific worksites (C-130 painting), while other worksites (generator painting) had no or few workers with detectable HDI-IgG.
HDI-specific immune responses (IgG) provide a practical biomarker to aid in exposure surveillance and ongoing industrial hygiene efforts. The strategy may supplement current air sampling approaches, which do not assess exposures via skin, or variability in PPE use or effectiveness. The approach may also be applicable to evaluating isocyanate exposures in other settings, and may extend to other chemical allergens.
PMCID: PMC3471419  PMID: 22449630
biomarker; exposure; HDI; hygiene; occupational
9.  Airborne Isocyanate Exposures in the Collision Repair Industry and a Comparison to Occupational Exposure Limits 
Isocyanate exposure was evaluated in 33 spray painters from 25 Washington State autobody shops. Personal breathing zone samples (n = 228) were analyzed for isophorone diisocyanate (IPDI) monomer, 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) monomer, IPDI polyisocyanate, and three polyisocyanate forms of HDI. The objective was to describe exposures to isocyanates while spray painting, compare them with short-term exposure limits (STELs), and describe the isocyanate composition in the samples. The composition of polyisocyanates (IPDI and HDI) in the samples varied greatly, with maximum amounts ranging from up to 58% for HDI biuret to 96% for HDI isocyanurate. There was a significant inverse relationship between the percentage composition of HDI isocyanurate to IPDI and to HDI uretdione. Two 15-min STELs were compared: (1) Oregon's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OR-OSHA) STEL of 1000 μg/m3 for HDI polyisocyanate, and (2) the United Kingdom's Health and Safety Executive (UK-HSE) STEL of 70 μg NCO/m3 for all isocyanates. Eighty percent of samples containing HDI polyisocyanate exceeded the OR-OSHA STEL while 98% of samples exceeded the UKHSE STEL. The majority of painters (67%) wore half-face air-purifying respirators while spray painting. Using the OROSHA and the UK-HSE STELs as benchmarks, 21% and 67% of painters, respectively, had at least one exposure that exceeded the respirator's OSHA-assigned protection factor. A critical review of the STELs revealed the following limitations: (1) the OR-OSHA STEL does not include all polyisocyanates, and (2) the UK-HSE STEL is derived from monomeric isocyanates, whereas the species present in typical spray coatings are polyisocyanates. In conclusion, the variable mixtures of isocyanates used by autobody painters suggest that an occupational exposure limit is required that includes all polyisocyanates. Despite the limitations of the STELs, we determined that a respirator with an assigned protection factor of 25 or greater is required to protect against isocyanate exposures during spray painting. Consequently, half-face air-purifying respirators, which are most commonly used and have an assigned protection factor of 10, do not afford adequate respiratory protection.
PMCID: PMC4075771  PMID: 22500941
autobody; hexamethylene diisocyanate; occupational exposure limits; polyisocyanates; respiratory protection; STEL
10.  Quantification and Statistical Modeling—Part I: Breathing-Zone Concentrations of Monomeric and Polymeric 1,6-Hexamethylene Diisocyanate 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(7):677-689.
We conducted a repeated exposure-assessment survey for task-based breathing-zone concentrations (BZCs) of monomeric and polymeric 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) during spray painting on 47 automotive spray painters from North Carolina and Washington State. We report here the use of linear mixed modeling to identify the primary determinants of the measured BZCs. Both one-stage (N = 98 paint tasks) and two-stage (N = 198 paint tasks) filter sampling was used to measure concentrations of HDI, uretidone, biuret, and isocyanurate. The geometric mean (GM) level of isocyanurate (1410 μg m−3) was higher than all other analytes (i.e. GM < 7.85 μg m−3). The mixed models were unique to each analyte and included factors such as analyte-specific paint concentration, airflow in the paint booth, and sampler type. The effect of sampler type was corroborated by side-by-side one- and two-stage personal air sampling (N = 16 paint tasks). According to paired t-tests, significantly higher concentrations of HDI (P = 0.0363) and isocyanurate (P = 0.0035) were measured using one-stage samplers. Marginal R2 statistics were calculated for each model; significant fixed effects were able to describe 25, 52, 54, and 20% of the variability in BZCs of HDI, uretidone, biuret, and isocyanurate, respectively. Mixed models developed in this study characterize the processes governing individual polyisocyanate BZCs. In addition, the mixed models identify ways to reduce polyisocyanate BZCs and, hence, protect painters from potential adverse health effects.
PMCID: PMC2758668  PMID: 19622637
air sampling; exposure determinants; hexamethylene diisocyanate; isocyanate; statistical modeling
11.  Respiratory Symptoms, Sensitization, and Exposure–Response Relationships in Spray Painters Exposed to Isocyanates 
Rationale: Associations between oligomeric isocyanate exposure, sensitization, and respiratory disease have received little attention, despite the extensive use of isocyanate oligomers.
Objectives: To investigate exposure–response relationships of respiratory symptoms and sensitization in a large population occupationally exposed to isocyanate oligomers during spray painting.
Methods: The prevalence of respiratory symptoms and sensitization was assessed in 581 workers in the spray-painting industry. Personal exposure was estimated by combining personal task-based inhalatory exposure measurements and time activity information. Specific IgE and IgG to hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) were assessed in serum by ImmunoCAP assay and enzyme immunoassays using vapor and liquid phase HDI–human serum albumin (HDI–HSA) and HSA conjugates prepared with oligomeric HDI.
Measurements and Main Results: Respiratory symptoms were more prevalent in exposed workers than among comparison office workers. Log–linear exposure–response associations were found for asthmalike symptoms, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease–like symptoms, and work-related chest tightness (prevalence ratios for an interquartile range increase in exposure of 1.2, 1.3 and 2.0, respectively; P ⩽ 0.05). The prevalence of specific IgE sensitization was low (up to 4.2% in spray painters). Nevertheless, IgE to N100 (oligomeric HDI)–HSA was associated with exposure and work-related chest tightness. The prevalence of specific IgG was higher (2–50.4%) and strongly associated with exposure.
Conclusions: The results provide evidence of exposure–response relationships for both work-related and non–work-related respiratory symptoms and specific sensitization in a population exposed to oligomers of HDI. Specific IgE was found in only a minority of symptomatic individuals. Specific IgG seems to be merely an indicator of exposure.
PMCID: PMC2176099  PMID: 17656675
oligomer; isocyanate; asthma; spray painter; sensitization
12.  Development of immunoassays for biomonitoring of hexamethylene diisocyanate exposure. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2001;109(11):1103-1108.
Hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) is used widely to manufacture polyurethanes for paints and coatings. It is an irritant and a chemical asthmagen. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration time-weighted average permissible exposure limit is 5 ppb and the ceiling limit is 20 ppb. We sought to develop a sensitive and specific immuno-bioassay to supplement workplace air monitoring and detect recent HDI exposure. For this, we produced rabbit antiserum to HDI-adducted keyhole limpet hemocyanin (HDI-KLH). The specificity of the antiserum was demonstrated by its reaction with a variety of HDI-conjugated proteins and the absence of reactions with conjugates of other diisocyanates, namely toluene diisocyanate and diphenyl methylene diisocyanate. Four immunoassays were developed and compared for their ability to detect decreasing quantities of HDI-adducted human serum albumin (HSA) containing 2 mol HDI adduct per mol HSA (HDI(2)-HSA) as determined by matrix-assisted laser desorption time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry. The sensitivities of some of the assays are within the range (0.82-45 nM) of current analytic methods. A Western analysis procedure has a sensitivity of 600 nM HDI adduct on HSA. ELISA inhibition assay, in which microtiter plates are coated with the HDI(2)-HSA antigen, has a sensitivity of 300 nM HDI adduct. An immunoblot assay has a sensitivity of 9 nM HDI adduct. The most sensitive bioassay (1.8 nM HDI adduct) is a three-antibody sandwich ELISA in which wells of microtiter plates are coated with the IgG fraction of the anti-HDI-KLH antisera. Compared with analytic methods for HDI biomonitoring, the immunoassays are faster and less costly and accommodate numerous samples simultaneously. The assays have the potential to affect industrial biomonitoring programs significantly.
PMCID: PMC1240469  PMID: 11712993
13.  Human Innate Immune Responses to Hexamethylene Diisocyanate (HDI) and HDI-Albumin Conjugates 
Isocyanates, a leading cause of occupational asthma, are known to induce adaptive immune responses; however, innate immune responses, which generally precede and regulate adaptive immunity, remain largely uncharacterized.
Identify and characterize cellular, molecular and systemic innate immune responses induced by hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI).
Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were stimulated in vitro with HDI-albumin conjugates or control antigen, and changes in phenotype, gene, and protein expression were characterized by flow cytometry, microarray, Western blot and ELISA. Cell uptake of isocyanate was visualized microscopically using HDI-albumin conjugates prepared with fluorescently-labeled albumin. In vivo, human HDI exposure was performed via specific inhalation challenge, and subsequent changes in PBMCs and serum proteins were measured by flow cytometry and ELISA. Genotypes were determined by PCR.
Human monocytes take-up HDI-albumin conjugates and undergo marked changes in morphology and gene/protein expression in vitro. The most significant (p 0.007 – 0.05) changes in mircoarray gene expression were noted in lysosomal genes, especially peptidases and proton pumps involved in antigen processing. Chemokines that regulate monocyte/macrophage trafficking (MIF, MCP-1), and pattern recognition receptors that bind chitin (chitinases) and oxidized low-density lipoprotein (CD68) were also increased following isocyanate-albumin exposure. In vivo, HDI exposed subjects exhibited an acute increase in the percentage of PBMCs with the same HDI-albumin responsive phenotype characterized in vitro (HLA-DR+/CD11c+ with altered light scatter properties). An exposure-dependent decrease (46±11%; p<0.015) in serum concentrations of chitinase-3-like-1 was also observed, in individuals that lack the major (type 1) human chitinase (due to genetic polymorphism), but not in individuals possessing at least one functional chitinase-1 allele.
Previously unrecognized innate immune responses to HDI and HDI-albumin conjugates could influence the clinical spectrum of exposure reactions.
PMCID: PMC3131007  PMID: 18498542
Isocyanate; Innate; Monocyte; Macrophage; Chitinase; CD68; Albumin; MIF; Cathepsin; Exposure; Asthma
14.  Elimination kinetics of diisocyanates after specific inhalative challenges in humans: mass spectrometry analysis, as a basis for biomonitoring strategies 
Isocyanates are some of the leading occupational causes of respiratory disorders, predominantly asthma. Adequate exposure monitoring may recognize risk factors and help to prevent the onset or aggravation of these aliments. Though, the biomonitoring appears to be most suitable for exposure assessment, the sampling time is critical, however. In order to settle the optimal time point for the sample collection in a practical biomonitoring approach, we aimed to measure the elimination of isocyanate urine metabolites.
A simple biomonitoring method enabling detection of all major diamine metabolites, from mono-, poly- and diisocyanates in one analytical step, has been established. Urine samples from 121 patients undergoing inhalative challenge tests with diisocyanates for diagnostic reasons were separated by gas chromatography and analyzed with mass spectrometry (GC-MS) at various time points (0-24 h) after the onset of exposure.
After controlled exposures to different concentrations of diisocyanates (496 ± 102 ppb-min or 1560 ± 420 ppb-min) the elimination kinetics (of respective isocyanate diamine metabolites) revealed differences between aliphatic and aromatic isocyanates (the latter exhibiting a slower elimination) and a dose-response relationship. No significant differences were observed, however, when the elimination time patterns for individual isocyanates were compared, in respect of either low or high exposure or in relation to the presence or absence of prior immunological sensitization.
The detection of isocyanate metabolites in hydrolyzed urine with the help of gas chromatography combined with mass spectrometric detection system appears to be the most suitable, reliable and sensitive method to monitor possible isocyanate uptake by an individual. Additionally, the information on elimination kinetic patterns must be factored into estimates of isocyanate uptake before it is possible for biomonitoring to provide realistic assessments of isocyanate exposure. The pathophysiological elimination of 1,6-hexamethylene diamine, 2,4-diamine toluene, 2,6-diamine toluene, 1,5-naphthalene diamine, 4,4'-diphenylmethane diamine and isophorone diamines (as respective metabolites of: 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate, 2,4-toluene diisocyanate and 2,6 toluene diisocyanate, 1,5-naphthalene diisocyanate, 4,4'-diphenylmethane diisocyanate and isophorone diisocyanates) differs between individual isocyanates' diamines.
PMCID: PMC3080353  PMID: 21447151
isocyanates; biomonitoring; biological monitoring; exposure assessment, occupational asthma; hypersensitivity pneumonitis; specific inhalation challenge
15.  Comparing Urinary Biomarkers of Airborne and Dermal Exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds in Asphalt-Exposed Workers 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(6):561-571.
When working with hot mix asphalt, road pavers are exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) through the inhalation of vapors and particulate matter (PM) and through dermal contact with PM and contaminated surfaces. Several PAHs with four to six rings are potent carcinogens which reside in these particulate emissions. Since urinary biomarkers of large PAHs are rarely detectable in asphalt workers, attention has focused upon urinary levels of the more volatile and abundant two-ring and three-ring PAHs as potential biomarkers of PAH exposure. Here, we compare levels of particulate polycyclic aromatic compounds (P-PACs, a group of aromatic hydrocarbons containing PAHs and heterocyclic compounds with four or more rings) in air and dermal patch samples from 20 road pavers to the corresponding urinary levels of naphthalene (U-Nap) (two rings), phenanthrene (U-Phe) (three rings), monohydroxylated metabolites of naphthalene (OH-Nap) and phenanthrene (OH-Phe), and 1-hydroxypyrene (OH-Pyr) (four rings), the most widely used biomarker of PAH exposure. For each worker, daily breathing-zone air (n = 55) and dermal patch samples (n = 56) were collected on three consecutive workdays along with postshift, bedtime, and morning urine samples (n = 149). Measured levels of P-PACs and the urinary analytes were used to statistically model exposure–biomarker relationships while controlling for urinary creatinine, smoking status, age, body mass index, and the timing of urine sampling. Levels of OH-Phe in urine collected postshift, at bedtime, and the following morning were all significantly associated with levels of P-PACs in air and dermal patch samples. For U-Nap, U-Phe, and OH-Pyr, both air and dermal patch measurements of P-PACs were significant predictors of postshift urine levels, and dermal patch measurements were significant predictors of bedtime urine levels (all three analytes) and morning urine levels (U-Nap and OH-Pyr only). Significant effects of creatinine concentration were observed for all analytes, and modest effects of smoking status and body mass index were observed for U-Phe and OH-Pyr, respectively. Levels of OH-Nap were not associated with P-PAC measurements in air or dermal patch samples but were significantly affected by smoking status, age, day of sample collection, and urinary creatinine. We conclude that U-Nap, U-Phe, OH-Phe, and OH-Pyr can be used as biomarkers of exposure to particulate asphalt emissions, with OH-Phe being the most promising candidate. Indications that levels of U-Nap, U-Phe, and OH-Pyr were significantly associated with dermal patch measurements well into the evening after a given work shift, combined with the small ratios of within-person variance components to between-person variance components at bedtime, suggest that bedtime measurements may be useful for investigating dermal PAH exposures.
PMCID: PMC2723216  PMID: 19602502
asphalt; biomarker; PAH; PAC; urine
16.  Hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) vapor reactivity with glutathione and subsequent transfer to human albumin 
Airway fluid glutathione (GSH) reactivity with inhaled vapors of diisocyanate, a common occupational allergen, is postulated to be a key step in exposure-induced asthma pathogenesis.
A mixed (vapor/liquid) phase exposure system was used to model the in vivo reactivity of inhaled HDI vapor with GSH in the airway fluid. HDI-GSH reaction products, and their capacity to transfer HDI to human albumin, were characterized through mass spectrometry and serologic assays, using HDI-specific polyclonal rabbit serum.
HDI vapor exposure of 10 mM GSH solutions resulted in primarily S-linked, bis(GSH)-HDI reaction products. In contrast, lower GSH concentrations (100 μM) resulted in mainly mono(GSH)-HDI conjugates, with varying degrees of HDI hydrolysis, dimerization and/or intra-molecular cyclization, depending upon the presence/absence of H2PO4-/HPO42- and Na+/Cl- ions. The ion composition and GSH concentration of the fluid phase, during HDI vapor exposure, strongly influenced the transfer of HDI from GSH to albumin, as did the pH and duration of the carbamoylating reaction. When carbamoylation was performed overnight at pH 7, twenty-five of albumin's lysines were identified as potential sites of conjugation with partially hydrolyzed HDI. When carbamoylation was performed at pH 9, more rapid (within 3 hours) and extensive modification was observed, including additional lysine sites, intra-molecular cross-linkage with HDI, and novel HDI-GSH conjugation.
The data define potential mechanisms by which the levels of GSH, H2PO4-4/HPO42-, and/or other ions (e.g. H+/OH-, Na+, Cl-) affect the reactivity of HDI vapor with self-molecules in solution (e.g. airway fluid), and thus, might influence the clinical response to HDI respiratory tract exposure.
PMCID: PMC3587365  PMID: 23178851
hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI); vapor; aliphatic; albumin; carbamoylation; glutathione (GSH); glutathione; diisocyanate; HDI; GSH
17.  Effects of hexamethylene diisocyanate exposure on human airway epithelial cells: in vitro cellular and molecular studies. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2002;110(9):901-907.
In this study we developed an in vitro exposure model to investigate the effects of hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) on human airway epithelial cells at the cellular and molecular level. We used immunofluorescence analysis (IFA) to visualize the binding and uptake of HDI by airway epithelial cell lines (A549 and NCI-NCI-H292) and microarray technology to identify HDI sensitive genes. By IFA, we observed that subcytotoxic concentrations of HDI form microscopic micelles that appear to be taken up by cells over a 3-hr period postexposure. Microarray analysis (4.6K genes) of parallel cultures identified four genes (thioredoxin reductase, dihydrodiol dehydrogenase, TG interacting factor, and stanniocalcin) whose mRNA levels were up-regulated after HDI exposure. Northern analysis was used to confirm that HDI increased message levels of these four genes and to further explore the dose dependence and kinetics of the response. The finding that HDI exposure increases thioredoxin reductase expression supports previous studies suggesting that HDI alters thiol-redox homeostasis, an important sensor of cellular stress. Another of the HDI-increased genes, a dihydrodiol dehydrogenase, encodes a protein previously shown to be specifically susceptible to HDI conjugation, and known to detoxify other hydrocarbons. Together, the data describe a novel approach for investigating the effects of HDI binding and uptake by human airway epithelial cells and begin to identify genes that may be involved in the acute response to exposure.
PMCID: PMC1240990  PMID: 12204825
18.  Arabidopsis HDA6 Regulates Locus-Directed Heterochromatin Silencing in Cooperation with MET1 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(4):e1002055.
Heterochromatin silencing is pivotal for genome stability in eukaryotes. In Arabidopsis, a plant-specific mechanism called RNA–directed DNA methylation (RdDM) is involved in heterochromatin silencing. Histone deacetylase HDA6 has been identified as a component of such machineries; however, its endogenous targets and the silencing mechanisms have not been analyzed globally. In this study, we investigated the silencing mechanism mediated by HDA6. Genome-wide transcript profiling revealed that the loci silenced by HDA6 carried sequences corresponding to the RDR2-dependent 24-nt siRNAs, however their transcript levels were mostly unaffected in the rdr2 mutant. Strikingly, we observed significant overlap of genes silenced by HDA6 to those by the CG DNA methyltransferase MET1. Furthermore, regardless of dependence on RdDM pathway, HDA6 deficiency resulted in loss of heterochromatic epigenetic marks and aberrant enrichment for euchromatic marks at HDA6 direct targets, along with ectopic expression of these loci. Acetylation levels increased significantly in the hda6 mutant at all of the lysine residues in the H3 and H4 N-tails, except H4K16. Interestingly, we observed two different CG methylation statuses in the hda6 mutant. CG methylation was sustained in the hda6 mutant at some HDA6 target loci that were surrounded by flanking DNA–methylated regions. In contrast, complete loss of CG methylation occurred in the hda6 mutant at the HDA6 target loci that were isolated from flanking DNA methylation. Regardless of CG methylation status, CHG and CHH methylation were lost and transcriptional derepression occurred in the hda6 mutant. Furthermore, we show that HDA6 binds only to its target loci, not the flanking methylated DNA, indicating the profound target specificity of HDA6. We propose that HDA6 regulates locus-directed heterochromatin silencing in cooperation with MET1, possibly recruiting MET1 to specific loci, thus forming the foundation of silent chromatin structure for subsequent non-CG methylation.
Author Summary
Eukaryotes are defended from potentially harmful DNA elements, such as transposons, by forming inactive genomic structure. Chromatin, which consists of DNA and histone proteins, is densely packed in the silent structure, and chromatin chemical modifications such as DNA methylation and histone modifications are known to be essential for this packing. In plants, small RNA molecules have been thought to trigger DNA methylation and resulting silent chromatin formation. We revealed that elimination of specific histone modifications concomitant with DNA methylation is pivotal for the silent chromatin. Furthermore, the histone deacetylase was shown to have more profound target specificity than the DNA methyltransferase and is required for locus-directed DNA methylation, implying the involvement of the histone deacetylase for targeting the DNA methyltransferase to specific places on the genome. These proteins and their functions for gene silencing are evolutionarily conserved in higher eukaryotes, and several proteins involved in small RNA production are plant-specific. Thus, we present a hypothesis that the plant genome may build the protecting foundation by the conserved genome surveillance in eukaryotes, and the reinforcing machinery involving small RNAs could be evolutionarily added to the plant heterochromatin silencing system.
PMCID: PMC3084210  PMID: 21552333
19.  Exposure biomarkers and risk from gluing and heating of polyurethane: a cross sectional study of respiratory symptoms 
OBJECTIVES—To define the relation between exposure to polyurethane (PUR) glue, biomarkers of exposure and effect, and work related symptoms that occur at least once a week.
METHODS—In a cross sectional study, 152 workers and 14 clerks in a factory with exposure to sprayed and heated PUR glue containing 4,4'-diphenylmethane (MDI) or 1,6-hexamethylene (HDI) di-isocyanate were examined with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) for metabolites of MDI in plasma (P-MDX) and urine (U-MDX), 2,4- and 2,6-toluene di-isocyanate (TDI; P-TDX, U-TDX) and HDI in plasma and urine, specific serum IgG (S-IgG-MDI, S-IgG-HDI, and S-IgG-TDI, respectively) and IgE (S-IgE-MDI). Work related symptoms of the eyes and airways (nose or lower airways, or both), and lung function were also evaluated.
RESULTS—P-MDX was detected in 65% of the workers, U-TDX in 47%, HDX in none. Three per cent were positive for S-IgE-MDI, 33% for S-IgG-MDI, 32% for S-IgG-TDI, and 12% for S-IgG-HDI. A few clerks had metabolites, and some had antibodies. Most metabolites and immunoglobulins were slightly correlated—for example, P-MDX v S-IgG-MDI: rs=0.21. Workers who heated glue had increased P-MDX (odds ratio (OR)=12 for a value above the median) and S-IgG-MDI (OR=3.7), sprayers P-2,4-TDX (OR=6.2) and P-2,6-TDX (OR=16). Twenty six per cent of the workers had work related symptoms of the airways, 21% from the nose, 11% from the lower airways. Spraying of glue increased the risk of work related symptoms and slightly decreased lung function. U-MDX was associated with work related symptoms from the airways (OR=3.7) and P-2,6-TDX with work related symptoms from the lower airways (OR=6.6). S-IgG-MDI was related to work related symptoms from the airways (OR=2.6).
CONCLUSIONS—There were relations between exposures to sprayed and heated PUR glue based on MDI and HDI, concentrations of metabolites of MDI and TDI in plasma and urine, specific IgG serum antibodies against MDI, TDI, and HDI, and work related symptoms.

Keywords: isocyanate; metabolites; antibodies
PMCID: PMC1739970  PMID: 10810129
20.  Biomarkers of exposure, antibodies, and respiratory symptoms in workers heating polyurethane glue. 
OBJECTIVES: The pathogenic basis of respiratory disorders associated with isocyanates are still obscure. One reason for this is the lack of good estimates of human exposure. In this study exposure was estimated by measurement of isocyanate metabolites in biological samples. METHODS: In a factory using isocyanate based polyurethane (PUR) glue, isocyanate concentrations in air were measured by liquid chromatography. Samples from 174 employees were analysed for metabolites of 4,4'-methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) in plasma (P-MDX) and urine (U-MDX). After hydrolysis, 4,4'-methylenedianiline was measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The employees were screened for work related respiratory symptoms and tested for specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) and IgG antibodies directed against isocyanate conjugated to human serum albumin. RESULTS: The time weighted isocyanate concentrations in air were low (MDI < 0.2-7; hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) < 0.1-0.7; 2,6-toluene diisocyanate (TDI) < 0.1 microgram/m3). All subjects had detectable P-MDX and U-MDX. There were significant associations between the estimates of exposure to thermal degradation products of an MDI based glue and P-MDX (range < or = 0.10-5.5 micrograms/l); and U-MDX (< or = 0.04-5.0 micrograms/g creatinine); in cases of heavy exposure. P-MDX and U-MDX were associated with each other (r = 0.64; P = 0.0001), work related symptoms (P-MDX: P = 0.03; Mann-Whitney U test), and serum concentrations of MDI specific IgG antibodies (r = 0.26; P = 0.0007). Unexpectedly, high P-MDX and U-MDX concentrations were also encountered in workers cutting textile (P-MDX 2.4-4.5 micrograms/l; U-MDX 0.81-3.8 micrograms/g creatinine); the reason is still unknown. Equally unexpected, there were significant negative associations between P-MDX and liver function tests. CONCLUSIONS: The results clearly show the value of biomarkers for isocyanate exposure; in particular, P-MDX is useful. Further, these results show the risk connected with thermal degradation of PUR.
PMCID: PMC1128441  PMID: 8704859
21.  Review of the occupational exposure to isocyanates: Mechanisms of action 
Polyurethanes are useful polymers in a large variety of technical and consumer products that are generally made from diisocyanates and polyols or similar compounds. Toluene diisocyanate (TDI), 4,4′-methylenediphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) and 1,6′-hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) are useful for polyurethane products. Isocyanates are reactive chemicals that can be handled without problems in manufacturing or technical environments. In general, consumers may only have contact with these chemicals on rare occasions. The objective of this study was to review the mechanisms of action of inhalation of isocyanates. This paper describes, in summary, the potential occupational exposure to isocyanates, the chemistry and reactivity of isocyanates, the results from genotoxicity studies, investigative toxicity studies, metabolism and results from epidemiology studies on isocyanate-exposed workers. The overall conclusion is that because humans are not exposed to high levels of respiratory isocyanate particles, concerns over the possible development of lung tumors should not be relevant. There are many mechanisms of action induced by isocyanates, but those entities are unclear. This is because these mechanisms act simultaneously and are complex.
PMCID: PMC2723231  PMID: 21432282
diisocyanate; immunology; genotoxicity; carcinogenicity; review
22.  Does diisocyanate exposure result in neurotoxicity? 
Diisocyanates have been associated with respiratory and dermal sensitization. Limited number of case reports, and a few case studies, media, and other references suggest potential neurotoxic effects from exposures to toluene diisocyanate (TDI), 1,6 hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI), and methylene diisocyanate (MDI). However, a systematic review of the literature evaluating the causal association on humans does not exist to support this alleged association.
To perform systematic review examining the body of epidemiologic evidence and provide assessment of causal association based on principles of the Sir Austin Bradford Hill criteria or considerations for causal analysis.
A comprehensive search of public databases for published abstracts, case reports, cross-sectional surveys, and cohort studies using key search terms was conducted. Additional searches included regulatory reviews, EU IUCLID and EU Risk Assessment databases, and unpublished reports in the International Isocyanate Institute database. An expert panel consisting of physicians, toxicologists, and an epidemiologist critically reviewed accepted papers, providing examination of epidemiologic evidence of each report. Finally, the Hill criteria for causation were applied to the summative analysis of identified reports to estimate probability of causal association.
Twelve papers reporting exposed populations with a variety of neurological symptoms or findings suitable for analysis were identified, including eleven case or case series reports, and one cross-sectional study. Three papers reported on the same population. Each of the papers was limited by paucity of diisocyanate exposure estimates, the presence of confounding exposures to known or suspected neurotoxicants, a lack of objective biological measures of exposure or neurotoxic effects, and lack of relative strength of association measures. Additionally, reported health symptoms and syndromes lacked consistency or specificity. No plausible mechanism of toxicity was found. Application of a predictive mathematical model for determining probability of causal association for neurotoxicity was calculated to be 21%.
There is insufficient evidence for a causal association of neurotoxic effects and diisocyanate exposure based on lack of evidence in all categories of the Hill criteria for causality except for temporal association of reported symptoms and alleged exposure. Future reports should attempt to address more rigorous exposure assessment and control for confounding exposures.
PMCID: PMC4025582  PMID: 24645904
Diisocyanate; Neurotoxicity; Peripheral nervous system; TDI; MDI; HDI; Central Nervous System; Sir Bradford Hill Criteria
23.  Modeling of hexamethylene diisocyanate and psychrometric parameters and other effective factors in the polyurethane factories 
Diisocyanates are widely used in surface coatings, polyurethane (PUR) foams, adhesives, resins, elastomers, binders, and sealants. Isocyanate exposure is irritative to the skin, mucous membranes, eyes, and respiratory tract. The most common adverse health outcome associated with isocyanate exposure is asthma due to sensitization.
The goal of this study is to find statistical predictive model to determine the relationship between airborne hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) and selective psychrometric variables.
Materials and Methods:
All air samplers (by midget impinger) were collected by mini personal sampler pump fixed to work stations near the source of pollution. The air samples and psychrometric parameters were separately collected and determined in a working shift for three periods of 2 h, each at a flow rate of 2 l/min in an impinger containing a solution of reagent of dimethyl sulfoxide in tryptamine [US National Instituteof Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 1994].
There was a significant correlation between HDI concentration and relative humidity and dry bulb temperature (P < 0.05). No significant correlation was seen between altitude and dimension of PUR factories (P > 0.05).
The finding of the study may be a useful initial tool in estimating possible HDI pollution situation in the PUR workplaces, based on simple psychrometric factors (indoor air temperature and relative humidity).
PMCID: PMC3062018  PMID: 21461158
Diisocyanate; dry bulb temperature; hexamethylene diisocyanate concentration; regression; relative humidity
24.  Biomarkers Predicting Isocyanate-Induced Asthma 
Three diisocyanates can cause occupational asthma (OA): toluene diisocyanate (TDI), 4,4 diphenylmethane diisocyanate (MDI), and 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI). We analyzed potential biomarkers of isocyanate-induced OA, based on investigated immunologic, genetic, neurogenic, and protein markers, because there is no serological testing method. The prevalence of serum IgG to cytokeratin (CK)18 and CK19 in TDI-OA was significantly higher than in controls, although the prevalence of these antibodies was too low for them to be used as biomarkers. Another candidate biomarker was serum IgG to tissue transglutaminase (tTG), because the prevalence of serum specific IgG to tTG was significantly higher in patients with TDI-OA than in controls. The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) DRB1*1501-DQB1*0602-DPB1*0501 haplotype may be used as a genetic marker for TDI-OA in Koreans via enhanced specific IgE sensitization in exposed subjects. The genetic polymorphisms of catenin alpha 3, alpha-T catenin (CTNNA3) were significantly associated with TDI-OA. Additionally, examining the neurokinin 2 receptor (NK2R) 7853G>A and 11424 G>A polymorphisms, the NK2R 7853GG genotype had higher serum vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) levels than the GA or AA genotypes among Korean workers exposed to TDI. To identify new serologic markers using a proteomic approach, differentially expressed proteins between subjects with MDI-OA and asymptomatic exposed controls in a Korean population showed that the optimal serum cutoff levels were 69.8 ng/mL for ferritin and 2.5 µg/mL for transferrin. When these two parameters were combined, the sensitivity was 71.4% and the specificity was 85.7%. The serum cytokine matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) level is a useful biomarker for identifying cases of TDI-OA among exposed workers. Despite these possible biomarkers, more effort should be focused on developing early diagnostic biomarkers using a comprehensive approach based on the pathogenic mechanisms of isocyanate-induced OA.
PMCID: PMC3005314  PMID: 21217921
Isocyanate; toluene diisocyanate; biomarkers; 4,4-diphenylmethane diisocyanate; occupational asthma
25.  Dermal Exposure to Jet Fuel JP-8 Significantly Contributes to the Production of Urinary Naphthols in Fuel-Cell Maintenance Workers 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2005;114(2):182-185.
Jet propulsion fuel 8 (JP-8) is the major jet fuel used worldwide and has been recognized as a major source of chemical exposure, both inhalation and dermal, for fuel-cell maintenance workers. We investigated the contributions of dermal and inhalation exposure to JP-8 to the total body dose of U.S. Air Force fuel-cell maintenance workers using naphthalene as a surrogate for JP-8 exposure. Dermal, breathing zone, and exhaled breath measurements of naphthalene were obtained using tape-strip sampling, passive monitoring, and glass bulbs, respectively. Levels of urinary 1- and 2-naphthols were determined in urine samples and used as biomarkers of JP-8 exposure. Multiple linear regression analyses were conducted to investigate the relative contributions of dermal and inhalation exposure to JP-8, and demographic and work-related covariates, to the levels of urinary naphthols. Our results show that both inhalation exposure and smoking significantly contributed to urinary 1-naphthol levels. The contribution of dermal exposure was significantly associated with levels of urinary 2-naphthol but not with urinary 1-naphthol among fuel-cell maintenance workers who wore supplied-air respirators. We conclude that dermal exposure to JP-8 significantly contributes to the systemic dose and affects the levels of urinary naphthalene metabolites. Future work on dermal xenobiotic metabolism and toxicokinetic studies are warranted in order to gain additional knowledge on naphthalene metabolism in the skin and the contribution to systemic exposure.
PMCID: PMC1367829  PMID: 16451852
1-naphthol; 2-naphthol; biomarker; dermal exposure; jet fuel (JP-8); naphthalene (CAS 91-20-3); Pratt index; relative contribution; tape stripping; total body dose

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