Persistence of long, thin chrysotile asbestos fibers in the lungs of rats.
The distribution of inhaled mineral fibers in the lung determines the site and severity of disease caused by the fibers. Some of our recent work has described the fate of inhaled asbestos fibers in rodents. After a brief inhalation exposure, asbestos fibers are deposited primarily at the first alveolar duct bifurcations, and fibrotic lesions are initiated. These sites of deposition occur as close to the visceral pleura as 220 micron. Several studies have suggested that short fibers are cleared from the lung more efficiently than long ones, and our data support this view. Our laboratory has shown that aerosolized chrysotile fibers longer than 16 microns can be deposited in the peripheral lung parenchyma of rats, and the measured clearance rate of these fibers is not significantly different from zero. Chrysotile, but no amphibole, fibers split longitudinally, so that the number of retained chrysotile fibers > or = 16 microns in length increases over time. We have not observed significant changes in chemical composition of chrysotile fibers up to 30 days post-deposition in the rat. Nor have we observed translocation of chrysotile fibers from the "central" regions of the lung toward the subpleural regions. However, 1 month after a single 3-hr exposure to chrysotile asbestos, the longest, most pathogenic fibers persist throughout the lung parenchyma. These retained fibers have the potential to cause disease in both parenchyma and pleura.
Coin, PG; Roggli, VL; Brody, AR
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