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Temporal association between serum prolactin concentration and exposure to styrene
  1. U Luderer1,
  2. R Tornero-Velez2,
  3. T Shay1,
  4. S Rappaport3,
  5. N Heyer4,
  6. D Echeverria4
  1. 1Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA
  2. 2National Exposure Research Laboratory, Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA
  3. 3Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
  4. 4Battelle Center for Public Health Research and Evaluation (CPHRE), Seattle, WA, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr U Luderer
 Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, 5201 California Avenue, Suite 100, Irvine, CA 92612, USA;


Background: Previous studies have suggested that occupational exposure to styrene is associated with increased serum levels of the anterior pituitary hormone prolactin (PRL).

Aims: To test the hypotheses that: (1) the effect of styrene exposure on PRL secretion is an acute effect, not a subchronic or chronic effect; (2) blood styrene, as a measure of absorbed dose, is a stronger predictor of serum PRL level than personal breathing zone air styrene concentration.

Methods: Subjects were recruited from 17 workplaces in the reinforced plastics industry. Personal breathing zone air styrene, whole blood styrene, and serum PRL were measured during one to three sessions, approximately one year apart. Linear multiple regression was used to model the relations between acute (air styrene or blood styrene obtained at same time as PRL), subchronic (average air or blood styrene over two or three sessions), and chronic (years of work in industry or facility times average air styrene over all sessions) indices of styrene exposure and serum PRL.

Results: Acute blood styrene concentration was the strongest predictor of serum PRL concentration, with the model predicting a 2.06-fold increase in PRL (95% CI 1.11 to 3.84) for every 10-fold increase in blood styrene. Serum PRL tended to increase with increasing styrene exposure in both men and women; however, women tended to have higher PRL levels. For women, the change in blood styrene between sessions 1 and 2 was a significant predictor of the change in serum PRL between sessions.

Conclusions: Results confirm that styrene exposure enhances serum PRL concentrations and support an acute effect of styrene on PRL secretion.

  • prolactin
  • styrene
  • acute
  • chronic
  • subchronic
  • ACGIH, American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists
  • PEL, permissible exposure limit
  • PRL, prolactin
  • TLV, threshold limit value

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