Purpose: Toluene diisocyanate (TDI) is a leading cause of occupational asthma (OA). Periostin is a matricellular protein implicated in type 2 immunity-driven asthma. Its pathogenic role in TDI-OA has not been completely elucidated. The present study was performed to investigate the role of periostin in TDI-OA. Materials and Methods: Serum periostin levels were measured in subjects with TDI-OA, asymptomatic TDI-exposure controls (AECs), non-occupational asthmatics (NAs), and unexposed normal controls (NCs). To understand the mechanism by which TDI induces periostin production, primary small airway epithelial cells (SAECs) were cultured under stimulation of TDI and neutrophils from asthmatic patients. Results: Fifty-three subjects with TDI-OA, 71 AECs, 67 NAs, and 83 NCs were enrolled. Serum periostin levels were significantly higher in TDI-OA subjects than in AECs (p=0.001), NAs (p<0.001), and NCs (p<0.001). In TDI-exposed subjects (TDI-OA and AEC), the PC 20 methacholine levels were significantly lower in subjects with a higher periostin level than in those with a lower periostin level. TDI exposure did not increase periostin production directly by SAECs; however, periostin production increased significantly after co-culture with TDI and neutrophils, which was suppressed by an antioxidant. In addition, increased release of TGF-β1 was noted from SAECs when exposed to TDI and neutrophils, which was also suppressed by an antioxidant. Conclusion: These results suggest that an increased periostin level may contribute to the progression of airway inflammation to remodeling in TDI-exposed workers. A high serum periostin level is a potential serologic marker of the phenotype of TDI-OA.
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