Asbestos burden in lungs of mesothelioma patients with pleural plaques, lung fibrosis and/or ferruginous bodies at histology: a postmortem SEM-EDS study

S. D. Visonà, B. Bertoglio, S. Capella, E. Belluso, B. Austoni, C. Colosio, Z. Kurzhunbaeva, T. Ivic-Pavlicic, E. Taioli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The causal attribution of asbestos-related diseases to past asbestos exposures is of crucial importance in clinical and legal contexts. Often this evaluation is made based on the history of exposure, but this method presents important limitations. To assess past asbestos exposure, pleural plaques (PP), lung fibrosis and histological evidence of ferruginous bodies (FB) can be used in combination with anamnestic data. However, such markers have never been associated with a threshold value of inhaled asbestos. With this study we attempted to shed light on the dose–response relationship of PP, lung fibrosis and FBs, investigating if their prevalence in exposed individuals who died from malignant mesothelioma (MM) is related to the concentration of asbestos in lungs assessed using scanning electron microscopy equipped with energy dispersive spectroscopy. Moreover, we estimated the values of asbestos concentration in lungs associated with PP, lung fibrosis and FB. Lung fibrosis showed a significant positive relationship with asbestos lung content, whereas PP and FB did not. We identified, for the first time, critical lung concentrations of asbestos related to the presence of PP, lung fibrosis and FB at histology (respectively, 19 800, 26 400 and 27 400 fibers per gram of dry weight), that were all well-below the background levels of asbestos identified in our laboratory. Such data suggest that PP, lung fibrosis and FB at histology should be used with caution in the causal attribution of MM to past asbestos exposures, while evaluation of amphibole lung content using analytical electron microscopy should be preferred.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-139
Number of pages9
JournalCarcinogenesis
Volume45
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2024

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