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Airway constrictor response to cotton bract extracts in the absence of endotoxin.
  1. M G Buck,
  2. J H Wall,
  3. E N Schachter


    Crude and purified aqueous extracts of cotton bracts shown to cause airway constriction in naive subjects were assayed for endotoxin content. Pulmonary function measured by flow changes on partial expiratory flow volume curves was used to assess airway responses to the bract extracts after their inhalation by a panel of volunteers. These responses are similar to the acute responses experienced by cotton textile workers. Crude aqueous extracts from various bracts harvested before and after senescence of the cotton plant displayed endotoxin concentrations ranging widely from 0.086 to 50 micrograms/ml. No correlation was found between these differences in endotoxin content and the severity of the airway constrictor response. Purifying the bract extract by a series of procedures that included precipitation of polymeric material by addition of methanol and chromatography on an anion exchange column of DEAE-Sephacel resulted in the elimination of almost all the endotoxin. The partially purified extract contained less than 1 ng/ml of endotoxin. The panel of volunteers responded to this purified bract extract, however, with a decrease in pulmonary function which was more than 60% of that seen with the crude extract of bracts. It is concluded that aqueous extracts of cotton bract contain an agent(s) other than endotoxin that causes acute airway constriction in people.

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