The formation or the accumulation, or both, of histamine in the lungs may be potentiated by agent(s) present in cotton dust at higher level(s) than in flax dust and negligible in cottonseed dust. It has been suggested that such potentiation may be due to the activation of the ability of the lung to produce histamine and/or produce or recruit mast cells; this may present an acceptable explanation of the mechanism by which the propagation of the chronic effect of the dust proceeds in cotton and flax workers. Histamine accumulated in the lung over the weekend is released on exposure to dust causing the symptoms of byssinosis. The difference in the rate of histamine metabolism relative to the rate of histamine formation in byssinotic subjects leads to a more prolonged histamine accumulation than in symptom free subjects, with the consequent appearance of the symptoms of byssinosis. Continuous exposure to dust, without weekend interruption, leads to equivalent rates of histamine formation and metabolism with non-considerable histamine accumulation in the lungs and consequent absence of the symptoms of byssinosis.
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