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Health Agencies Update
February 25, 2004

Diesel Fumes and Allergies

JAMA. 2004;291(8):933. doi:10.1001/jama.291.8.933-b

Antioxidant-related genes may help determine who develops respiratory allergies following inhalation of diesel emissions, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (Lancet. 2004;363:119-125).

In the study, researchers from the University of California and the University of Southern California, both in Los Angeles, enlisted volunteers who were allergic to ragweed and exposed them to a mix of ragweed and diesel exhaust. Individuals lacking the antioxidant-producing form of the gene GSTM1 had significantly greater allergic responses compared with those who had the gene. Individuals lacking GSTM1 who had a variant of a related gene called GSTP1 experienced even stronger allergic reactions. An estimated 50% or more of the US population lack GSTM1; 15% to 20% of the US population lack GSTM1 and have the GSTP1 variant.

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