Background: Penicillium frequentans is considered to be the causal agent of suberosis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis due to cork dust inhalation. Nevertheless, other fungi can colonize cork during its storage period in humid conditions. The aims of the study were to assess the etiologic role of several fungi and cork itself in the genesis of suberosis, and to review the clinical characteristics of patients with this disease.
Methods: Eight patients with suberosis were studied. Chest radiography, high-resolution chest CT, pulmonary function testing, bronchofibroscopy with BAL and transbronchial biopsy, and delayed cutaneous hypersensitivity tests were performed. Fungal and suberin (cork that is culture negative for fungi) antigens were used for serum determination of specific IgG antibodies, immediate hypersensitivity specific skin tests, and specific bronchial challenge tests.
Results: Serum specific IgG antibody determinations and specific skin tests against Aspergillus fumigatus and suberin demonstrated the capacity of both these antigenic extracts to induce an immunologic response. Positive specific bronchial challenge tests performed not only with P frequentans but also with A fumigatus, and cork itself were recorded in some patients for the first time in this disease. Dyspnea and cough were the most frequent symptoms. Clinical and functional improvement occurred after antigen avoidance.
Conclusions: In addition to P frequentans, A fumigatus and cork dust itself may contribute to the development of suberosis.