Immune Functions of the Garment Workers

R Sultana, KJ Ferdous, M Hossain, MSH Zahid, LN Islam


Background: Occupational exposure to cotton dust, fibers, metal fumes and different chemicals used in the apparel manufacturing industries cause a wide range of physical and psychological health problems in the garment workers that may also affect their immune function.

Objective: To assess the immune system function in garment workers.

Methods: A total of 45 workers of a garment factory, and 41 control subjects, not exposed to the garment working environment were enrolled in this study. In the study subjects, the complement system function was assessed as bactericidal activity on Escherichia coli DH5α cells using the standard plate count method. Serum complement components C3 and C4 were measured by immunoprecipitation, and IgG was measured by immunonephelometry.

Results: The bactericidal activity of serum complement in the garment workers (range: 93.5%–99.9%) was significantly (p<0.01) lower than that in the controls (range: 98.6%–100%). The heat-inactivated serum of the workers showed a significantly enhanced bactericidal activity. In the garment workers, the mean levels of complement C3, and C4 were 1.75 and 0.26 g/L, respectively that were close to those of the controls. The mean IgG level in the garment workers was 13.5 g/L that was significantly (p<0.001) higher than that in the controls.

Conclusion: Working in a garment factory may affect the immune system.


Clothing; Immune system; Complement system protein; Immunoglobulins

 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

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