Airway branching patterns influence asbestos fiber location and the extent of tissue injury in the pulmonary parenchyma.
The degree to which various anatomic components of the lung influence the distribution of inhaled particles is not entirely clear. Therefore, we have studied the role intrapulmonary airways play in the localization of respired asbestos fibers and have correlated local asbestos fiber burden with tissue injury in rats following exposure to aerosolized chrysotile asbestos for 7 hours per day, 5 days per week for 12 months. Tissues arising from anatomically distinct pathways of the tracheobronchial tree were isolated by using microdissection. Adjacent tissue blocks from regions immediately distal to the last dissected airway were prepared for light microscopic evaluation or digested in hypochlorite solution to determine alveolar septal tissue density and asbestos fiber concentration respectively. These studies demonstrated regional differences in asbestos fiber number, size, and mass which were inversely related to airway pathlength and to bifurcation number along each airway path. Fiber burden within each region was found to be proportional to the relative degree of tissue injury present. These findings suggest that differences in tissue injury from region to region in the lungs following exposure to asbestos are a result of regional differences in the deposition and retention of these substances in the lungs. These airway characteristics which influence fiber deposition may also play an important role in the deposition and subsequent lung injury caused by other particulates and environmental pollutants.
Pinkerton, KE; Plopper, CG; Mercer, RR; Roggli, VL; Patra, AL; Brody, AR; Crapo, JD
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