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Open AccessArticle

Mineral Fibres and Asbestos Bodies in Human Lung Tissue: A Case Study

Department of Chemical and Geological Sciences, The University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via Campi 103, I-41121 Modena, Italy
Department of Earth and Environmental Science, The University of Pennsylvania, 240 S. 33rd Street, Hayden Hall, PA 19104-6316, USA
Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology, University of Pennsylvania, 1316 Biomedical Research Building (BRB) II/III, 421 Curie Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
Pathology Unit, Azienda Unità Sanitaria Locale IRCCS, I-42123 Reggio Emilia, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Minerals 2019, 9(10), 618;
Received: 2 August 2019 / Revised: 23 September 2019 / Accepted: 29 September 2019 / Published: 8 October 2019
One of the open questions regarding the asbestos problem is the fate of the mineral fibres in the body once inhaled and deposited in the deep respiratory system. In this context, the present paper reports the results of an electron microscopy study of both mineral fibres and asbestos bodies found in the lung tissue of a patient who died of malignant mesothelioma due to past occupational exposure. In concert with previous in vivo animal studies, our data provide evidence that amphibole asbestos fibres are durable in the lungs, whereas chrysotile fibres are transformed into a silica-rich product, which can be easily cleared. Amphibole fibres recovered from samples of tissue of the deceased display a high degree of crystallinity but also show a very thin amorphous layer on their surface; 31% of the fibres are coated with asbestos bodies consisting of a mixture of ferroproteins (mainly ferritin). Here, we propose an improved model for the coating process. Formation of a coating on the fibres is a defence mechanism against fibres that are longer than 10 µm and thinner than 0.5 µm, which macrophages cannot engulf. The mature asbestos bodies show signs of degradation, and the iron stored in ferritin may be released and potentially increase oxidative stress in the lung tissue. View Full-Text
Keywords: mineral fibre; asbestos; asbestos bodies; SEM; TEM mineral fibre; asbestos; asbestos bodies; SEM; TEM
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Di Giuseppe, D.; Zoboli, A.; Vigliaturo, R.; Gieré, R.; Bonasoni, M.P.; Sala, O.; Gualtieri, A.F. Mineral Fibres and Asbestos Bodies in Human Lung Tissue: A Case Study. Minerals 2019, 9, 618.

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