Exposure to hand-held vibrating tools and biomarkers of nerve injury in plasma: A population-based, observational study

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Objectives To analyse potential biomarkers for vibration-induced nerve damage in a population-based, observational study. Design Prospective cohort study. Setting Malmö Diet Cancer Study (MDCS), Malmö, Sweden. Participants In a subcohort of 3898 individuals (recruited 1991-1996) from MDCS (baseline examination in 28 449 individuals; collection of fasting blood samples in a cardiovascular subcohort of MDCS of 5540 subjects), neuropathy-relevant plasma biomarkers were analysed during follow-up after filling out questionnaires, including a question whether work involved hand-held vibrating tools, graded as 'not at all', 'some' or 'much'. Primary outcome measures The neuropathy-relevant plasma biomarkers vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A, VEGF-D, VEGF receptor 2, galanin, galectin-3, HSP27, ß-nerve growth factor, caspase-3, caspase-8, transforming growth factor-α and tumour necrosis factor were analysed. Data were analysed by conventional statistics (Kruskal-Wallis test; post hoc test Mann-Whitney U test; Bonferroni correction for multiple testing) and in a subanalysis for galanin using two linear regression models (unadjusted and adjusted). Results Among participants, 3361 of 3898 (86%) reported no work with hand-held vibrating tools, 351 of 3898 (9%) reported some and 186 of 3898 (5%) much work. There were more men and smokers in vibration-exposed groups. Galanin levels were higher after much vibration exposure (arbitrary units 5.16±0.71) compared with no vibration exposure (5.01±0.76; p=0.015) with no other observed differences. Conclusions Higher plasma levels of galanin, possibly related to magnitude, frequency, acceleration and duration, as well as to severity of symptoms of vibration exposure, may be found in individuals working with hand-held vibrating tools.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere070450
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health

Free keywords

  • neurological injury
  • neurological pain
  • neurophysiology
  • occupational & industrial medicine


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