Eight asthmatic patients with hard metal asthma due to cobalt underwent bronchial provocation challenge with nickel sulphate. Seven patients developed a fall in FEV1 of 20% or more after inhaling nickel sulphate, four showing an immediate response and three a late response. Eight control subjects, including six asthmatic patients, with no history of hard metal exposure, showed no bronchoconstriction in response to a provocation challenge with nickel sulphate. Specific antibodies to nickel conjugated human serum albumin were present in four of the eight patients with sensitivity to cobalt conjugated human serum albumin but were absent from the serum of 60 unexposed asthmatic patients and 25 exposed symptom free workers. These results suggest that nickel as well as cobalt sensitivity plays a part in hard metal asthma.
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