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Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
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Glossary

A

Acquired immunity.

Immunity gained during one's lifetime, not inherited. This can be either:

Active—the result when an antibody is produced by the individual's immune system in response to a naturally acquired infection or vaccination, or

Passive—the result when an antibody is transferred to the individual from another, immune human or animal host.

Agranulocytosis.

Absence of granulocytes from the circulating blood, resulting in high fever, great weakness, and ulceration of the mucous membranes.

Allergen.

A chemical or biological substance (e.g., pollen, animal dander, or house dust mite proteins) that causes an allergic reaction, characterized by hypersensitivity.

Allergen challenge.

Administration of an antigen to a previously sensitized individual to induce a dose-response for clinical or research evaluation.

Allergic broncho-pulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA).

An immunologic hypersensitivity reaction in the bronchi caused by colonization of sputum of patients with Aspergillus fumigatus. The inflammatory reaction may recur and progress over years to result in destruction of the bronchi and fibrosis of pulmonary tissue.

Allergic broncho-pulmonary fungosis (ABPF).

A syndrome similar to ABPA in which the fungal organism is not Aspergillus fumigatus. ABPF is far less common than ABPA.

Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
×

Allergy.

A state of immunologically mediated hypersensitivity to a foreign material.

Anaphylaxis.

A systemic, immunologically mediated hypersensitivity reaction to a foreign substance. Clinical manifestations are cutaneous, respiratory, and cardiovascular with shock and laryngeal edema as important causes of death when a fatality occurs.

Antibody.

A protein molecule formed by the immune system in response to the body's contact with an antigen, having the specific capacity of neutralizing the antigen and creating immunity against certain microorganisms and toxicants. Certain antibodies can cause adverse hypersensitivity (allergic) reactions.

Antigen.

A substance that stimulates the production of an antibody when introduced into the body. Antigens are usually high-molecular-weight compounds, such as proteins. However, low-molecular-weight compounds (e.g., drugs or industrial chemicals) can bind to serum proteins and become antigenic.

Asthma.

A usually chronic condition characterized by intermittent episodes of wheezing, coughing, and difficulty in breathing, sometimes caused by an allergy to inhaled substances.

Atopen.

The exciting cause of any form of atopy.

Atopy.

The state of having one or more of a defined group of diseases—allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, allergic asthma, and atopic dermatitis—that are caused by a genetic propensity to produce IgE antibodies to environmental allergens encountered through inhalation, ingestion, and, possibly, skin contact. A broader definition, sometimes used for epidemiologic studies, requires only the presence of IgE antibody, regardless of allergic disease.

Autoantibody.

An antibody that reacts with a component of the tissues of the animal making the antibody.

Autoimmunity.

A condition resulting from the production of autoantibodies, characterized by cell-mediated or humoral immunologic responses to antigens of one's own body, sometimes with damage to normal components of the body.

B

B cell.

A type of lymphocyte that produces antibodies and originates in bone marrow.

Bioaerosol.

An aerosol containing living organisms or particles derived from living organisms.

Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid.

The fluid obtained from the lungs by lavage. Lavage is a technique in which an organ is flushed with water to allow analysis of material in the drainage fluid (in this case, cells from the bronchioles and alveoli).

Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
×

Bronchoconstriction.

Narrowing of a bronchus caused by contraction of bronchial smooth muscle.

Bronchoprovocation test.

An aerosolized solution of the test allergen is delivered by inhalation through a dosimeter in graded increasing dosages. The response is measured by spirometry.

Bronchospastic.

Constriction of the bronchi due to smooth muscle contraction and edema and resulting in asthma.

Bronchus.

One of the large conducting air passages of the lung.

Byssinosis.

An occupational respiratory disease associated with the inhalation of cotton, flax, or hemp dust. It is characterized initially by chest tightness, shortness of breath, and cough but may lead to permanent lung damage.

C

Carcinogen.

A cancer-causing substance or agent.

Cell-mediated immunity (CMI).

Those manifestations of the immune reaction that are characterized by a cellular response, in particular by T lymphocytes and macrophages.

Colony-forming units.

The number of colonies on an agar plate (petri dish) after culturing.

Contact sensitization.

To stimulate an immune response upon initial skin contact with an antigen, with the consequence of preparing the body for a repeat response upon reexposure to the antigen.

Coprophagia.

Feeding on dung.

Cross-reactivity of antigens.

The interaction of an antigen with an antibody formed against a different antigen with which the first antigen shares closely related or common antigenic determinants. The effect is to reduce the specificity and sensitivity of the test method.

Cytokine.

A substance produced by cells, including T cells, that transmits messages between cells to control and modulate immune responses.

Cytotoxic.

Lethal to cells.

D

Delayed-type hypersensitivity.

An inflammatory reaction that occurs 24 to 48 hours after challenge with an antigen and that is a result of lymphocyte-mediated immunity.

Dermatitis.

An inflammatory skin condition.

Dermatographism.

Urticaria due to physical allergy, in which moderately firm stroking or scratching of the skin with a dull instrument produces a pale, raised welt or wheal, with a red flare on each side.

Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus.

A common cosmopolitan sarcoptiform mite commonly found in house dust accumulations and thought to be a contributory cause of atopic house dust asthma.

Dew point temperature.

The temperature at which moist air becomes

Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
×

saturated (100 percent relative humidity) with water vapor when cooled at constant pressure.

Dose-response.

The quantitative relationship between exposure to a substance, usually expressed as a dose, and the extent of the biologic effect or response.

Droplet nuclei.

Aerosols that contain an organism or particle.

E

Endotoxin.

The lipopolysaccharide of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria, extractable from cells with trichloroacetic acid but not naturally released in quantity until cell lysis. The lipid A portion of the lipopolysaccharide is responsible for its toxic effects, which include leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, fever, and shock. Unlike the specific exotoxins, endotoxins from various organisms have similar pathogenic effects. Also known as bacterial pyrogen.

Epidemiology.

The scientific study of the distribution and occurrence of human diseases, health conditions, and their determinants.

Epitope.

Antigenic determinant.

Erythema.

Redness of the skin.

Extravasate.

To exude from or pass out of a vessel into the tissues, for example, from blood, lymph, or urine.

F

Fomites.

Inanimate objects or substances that function to transfer infectious organisms from one individual to another.

G

Granulocyte.

Any of several types of white blood cells with a granular cytoplasm.

H

Hematology.

The science of blood and its nature, function, and diseases.

Histamine.

A substance released by basophils in mast cells during allergic reactions. The pharmacologic effects of histamine include dilating blood vessels and stimulating gastric secretion.

Host.

An organism that harbors or provides nourishment, habitat, or transport to another organism, whether symbiont, commensal, or parasite.

Host resistance.

The ability of an organism to mount a successful immune response against disease-causing antigens.

Humoral immunity.

Immunity associated with and characterized by antibodies that circulate in the blood.

Hygroscopic.

Capable of readily taking up and retaining moisture.

Hypersensitivity.

Excessive or abnormal reactivity to a stimulus.

Hypersensitivity diseases.

Diseases for which a subsequent exposure to an antigen produces a greater effect than that produced on initial exposure. (See discussion in Chapter 5.)

Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
×

Hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

An inflammatory disease of the lung caused by inhalation of foreign substances such as microbial organisms (farmer's lung), indoor antigens (bird breeders' lung), and industrial allergenic chemicals (e.g., acid anhydrides and isocyanates). The diseases are due to immunologic reactions in pulmonary tissue. Also known as extrinsic allergic alveolitis.

I

Immediate-type hypersensitivity.

An immune response mediated by immunoglobulin E antibodies, characterized by hives, wheezing, and/or abrupt changes in blood pressure, and occurring within a few minutes or hours after exposure to an antigen.

Immune system.

A specialized group of body cells, cell products, tissues, and organs that respond to foreign organisms and substances in the body.

Immunize.

To deliberately introduce an antigenic substance (vaccination or active immunization) or antibodies (passive immunization) into an individual, with the aim of decreasing susceptibility to infectious diseases or protecting against toxicants.

Immunocompetence.

The capacity to respond immunologically to antigens.

Immunoglobulin(s).

A protein (or family of proteins) that participates in the immune reaction as the antibody for a specific antigen. There are five categories of immunoglobulin (Ig) based on structural differences: IgG, IgM, IgA, IgD, and IgE.

Immunology.

The study of the immune system concerned with the phenomena that allow an organism to respond to a subsequent exposure to a foreign substance in a way that is distinct from the way it responds to the initial exposure to that same substance.

Immuno-suppression.

Suppressing the natural immune response of an organism, thus permitting an individual to accept a foreign substance, such as a transplant, but also increasing the likelihood of infection.

Immunotherapy.

(1) The treatment of disease by the administration to the patient of antibody raised in another individual or another species (passive immunotherapy) or by immunizing the patient with antigens appropriate to the disease (active immunotherapy). (2) Therapy, used especially in the treatment of cancer, intended to stimulate the effector mechanisms of the immune response nonspecifically.

Immunotoxic.

Having the potential to adversely affect the immune response or damage components of the immune system.

Incidence rate.

The number of cases of a disease, abnormality, condition, etc., arising in a defined population during a stated period, expressed as a ratio, such as x cases per 1,000 population per year.

Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
×

Inhalant.

A substance that may be taken into the body through the respiratory system.

Innate immunity.

See natural immunity, nonspecific immunity.

In vitro.

Literally, in glass; pertains to a biological process taking place in an artificial environment, usually a laboratory.

In vivo.

Literally, in the living; pertains to a biological process or reaction taking place in a living organism.

Insolation.

Solar radiation that has been received.

Isotype.

An immunoglobulin heavy or light chain class or subclass characterized by antigenic determinants (isotypic markers) in the constant region. Every normal individual expresses all of the isotypes of its species.

L

Leukocyte.

Any of the small, colorless (white) cells in the blood, lymph, and tissues, important in the body's defenses against infection.

Ligand.

Any one of several molecules or ions, identical or different, that bind to the same central entity. For example, the nitrogen atoms and the oxygen molecule bind to the iron of hemoglobin. The hydrogen ions that bind to the same protein molecule are another example.

Lymphocyte.

A specialized leukocyte (white cell) formed in the lymphatic tissues important in the synthesis of antibodies.

Lymphoid organs.

The principal organs of the immune system, including bone marrow, thymus, spleen, and lymph nodes. They produce, store, and distribute the immune system cells.

Lymphokine.

A protein that mediates interactions among lymphocytes and is vital to proper immune function.

Lyse.

To break up or rupture a cell membrane.

M

Macrophage.

A type of large, amoeba-like cell found in the blood and lymph that has an important role in host defense mechanisms by ingesting dead tissue, tumor cells, and foreign particles such as bacteria and parasites. The macrophage also plays an important role in antigen processing and presentation.

Mast cells.

Connective tissue cells commonly found adjacent to blood vessels and in the lymphatic system, skin, lung, and other tissues. Mast cells are approximately 20 µ in diameter and have cytoplasm filled by numerous (30–100) prominent metachromatic granules that stain black or purplish black with Romanowsky dyes. The granules contain heparin and histamine, and are involved in urticarial reactions. Mast cells are so named because their cytoplasmic granules, originally thought to contain stored nutrients, were likened to mast, i.e., the acorns, nuts, etc. used to fatten livestock.

Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
×

Methacholine.

Chemical substance that is used as a parasympathomimetic agent and vasodilator.

Metric.

Pertaining to measures based on the meter.

Microbial agents.

Microbiological organisms or parts thereof.

Mitogenesis.

The initiation of cell division, or mitosis.

Monoclonal antibody.

An antibody secreted by a single clone of antibody-producing cells. Such antibodies have the same combining site, the same light chain, and the same immunoglobulin class, subclass, and allotype, and their production in tissue culture by the hybridoma technique has enormously expanded the availability of highly characterized and specific antibodies of far-reaching practical and experimental importance. Monoclonal antibodies are occasionally found in human disease, as in cold hemolytic antibody disease, or after immunization of experimental animals, as with bacterial polysaccharides, but most antibody formation in vivo is highly polyclonal. Monoclonal antibodies are also used widely for the isolation and purification of proteins on a preparative and industrial scale.

Monocyte.

A large, phagocytic, nongranular leukocyte (white cell) containing one nucleus.

Morbidity.

Illness or disease.

Mucous membranes.

The membranes with mucous coverings, as in the nose, mouth, and upper airways.

Mycelial fragments.

The growing, nonspore phase of fungi.

N

Nasal lavage fluid.

The fluid obtained from the cleaning and washing out of nasal passages.

Natural immunity.

See nonspecific immunity.

Natural killer cell.

A type of lymphocyte that attacks cancerous or virus-infected cells without previous exposure to the antigen. Also known as NK cell.

Nonspecific immunity.

Immunity that exists from birth and occurs without prior exposure to an antigen; also known as innate immunity.

P

Pathogenic.

Capable of causing disease.

Pathology.

The study of the causes, development, and effects of disease or injury and the associated structural and functional changes.

Peak flow.

A measure of lung function. (See discussion in Chapter 5.)

Peripheral blood.

Circulating blood that is remote from the heart.

Peritrophic.

Designating a tubular chitinous sheath (the peritrophic membrane) inside the intestine of many insects. The sheath is continuously secreted at the anterior end of the stomach.

Pesticide.

Any substance or mixture of substances intended to kill or control pests such as insects, fungi, rodents, weeds, or roundworms.

Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
×

Phagocytosis.

Consumption of foreign particles (e.g., bacteria) by cells that surround the particle and then ingest it.

Plenum.

A space filled with matter (not a vacuum); an enclosed volume of gas under greater pressure than that surrounding the container.

Pneumoconiosis.

A condition characterized by mineral dust deposits in the lungs as a result of occupational or environmental exposure.

Pneumonitis.

Inflammation of the lungs.

Prevalence rate.

The ratio of the number of morbid cases to the number of people at risk at a specific time and place.

R

Reagent.

Any substance capable of reacting with another, particularly if the reaction produces a change of physical properties whereby the second substance may be detected or measured. For example, dimethylglyoxime is a reagent for nickel, iron, bismuth, etc. The reagent is called selective if it indicates the presence of a small number of compounds or ions, and specific (or characteristic) if it only gives an indication with a single substance.

Reservoir.

Any source of infection; a space, container, or depot in which something accumulates or is kept in reserve.

Resistance.

The native or acquired ability of an organism to maintain its immunity to ward off disease.

Rhinitis.

Inflammation of the lining of the nose.

Rhinoconjunctivitis.

A condition that consists of a combination of rhinitis and conjunctivitis.

Rhinomanometry.

The measurement of airflow and variations in air pressure within the nose. The resistance to respiration offered by the nasal soft tissues may be calculated from the results of the measurement.

S

Saprophytic.

Obtaining food by absorbing dissolved organic material.

Sensitization.

The process by which an immune response is stimulated on first being exposed to an antigen, with the consequence of preparing the body's immune system for a stronger response upon reexposure to the same antigen, as in a hypersensitivity reaction.

Serology.

The study of serum, the watery liquid that separates from coagulated blood.

Serum.

The clear yellowish fluid obtained when whole blood is separated into its solid and liquid components.

Silicosis.

A condition of lung fibrosis that is brought about by prolonged inhalation of silica dust.

Skin tests.

Tests for an allergy or infectious disease, performed by a patch test, scratch test, or an intracutaneous injection of an allergen or extract of the disease-causing organism.

Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
×

Specificity.

The quality or state of being specific, as of an antigen to its corresponding antibody.

Susceptibility.

The extent to which an individual is liable to infection or to the effects of substances, such as toxicants, allergens, or other influences. The antithesis of resistance.

T

T cell.

A lymphocyte produced in the bone marrow that matures in the thymus and is integral to cell-mediated immunity. T cells regulate the growth and differentiation of other lymphocytes and are involved in antibody production.

V

Vaccination.

The administration of vaccine orally or by injection to protect against a given disease.

Vasodilation.

Dilation of the blood vessels.

W

Wheal and flare.

Wheal—A smooth, slightly elevated area on the body surface, which is redder or paler than the surrounding skin; it is often attended with severe itching, and is usually evanescent, changing its size or shape, or disappearing within a few hours. It is the typical lesion of urticaria, the dermal evidence of allergy, and in sensitive persons may be provoked by mechanical irritation of the skin. Known as also hive and welt. Flare—(1) The red outermost zone of the ''triple response" (Sir Thomas Lewis) urticarial wheal reaction, a manifestation of immediate, as opposed to delayed, allergy or hypersensitivity; (2) a spreading flush or area of redness on the skin, spreading out around an infective lesion or extending beyond the main point of reaction to an irritant; and (3) sudden exacerbation of a disease.

White cell.

A colorless cell in the blood, lymph, or tissues that is an important component of the immune system. See leukocyte.

Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
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Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
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Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
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Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
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Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
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Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
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Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
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Suggested Citation:"Glossary." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 1993. Indoor Allergens: Assessing and Controlling Adverse Health Effects. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2056.
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More than 50 million Americans, one out of five, suffer from hay fever, asthma, and other allergic diseases. Many of these conditions are caused by exposure to allergens in indoor environments such as the house, work, and school--where we spend as much as 98 percent of our time.

Developed by medical, public health, and engineering professionals working together, this unique volume summarizes what is known about indoor allergens, how they affect human health, the magnitude of their effect on various populations, and how they can be controlled. The book addresses controversies, recommends research directions, and suggests how to assist and educate allergy patients, as well as professionals.

Indoor Allergens presents a wealth of information about common indoor allergens and their varying effects, from significant hay fever to life-threatening asthma. The volume discusses sources of allergens, from fungi and dust mites to allergenic chemicals, plants, and animals, and examines practical measures for their control.

Indoor Allergens discusses how the human airway and immune system respond to inhaled allergens and assesses patient testing methods, covering the importance of the patient's medical history and outlining procedures and approaches to interpretation for skin tests, in vitro diagnostic tests, and tests of patients' pulmonary function.

This comprehensive and practical volume will be important to allergists and other health care providers; public health professionals; specialists in building design, construction, and maintenance; faculty and students in public health; and interested allergy patients.

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