It has been postulated that occupational exposure to hydrocarbons may damage the kidney and lead to glomerulonephritis and chronic renal failure. As laminin is a ubiquitous basement membrane component that seems to play a central part in the structure and function of basement membranes and as the normal renal filtration process is highly dependent on an intact glomerular basement membrane, the serum laminin concentration was examined in a population of workers exposed to hydrocarbons. The hydrocarbon exposure was assessed by exposure surrogates (exposure duration and exposure score). An interaction between occupational exposure to hydrocarbons and hypertension increased the laminin concentration whereas the laminin concentration decreased in workers exposed for a long time probably because of a selection effect. In a subgroup of printers exposed to toluene whose hippuric acid excretion had been recorded for several years this interaction was confirmed when the hippuric acid excretion was substituted for the other exposure indices. In the exposed group, the age-related decline in creatinine clearance was accelerated. These results seem to confirm that occupational exposure to hydrocarbons is a non-specific factor that may promote a deterioration of renal function.
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