Can Asbestos Fibres be More Harmful Than Others?

Certain asbestos fibres disrupt mesothelial cells, and the mesothelial cells appear to be a major target for asbestos fibres.


This cell is predominantly linked with a mesothelioma tumour and is strongly associated with asbestos exposure. The mesothelial cell may also play a role in other asbestos-related disease such as pleural plaques, benign asbestos pleurisy, and pleural fibrosis.


Microscopic Amphibole Fibres



Studies have been carried out concerning the asbestos fibre and its interaction with the mesothelial cell, but it is still unclear what exactly determines asbestos disease, particularly pleural mesothelioma (most common type). Theory suggests several factors: Asbestos fibres tend to accumulate in the pleural space by lodging in the parietal pleura around the draining lymphatic somata. Mesothelial cells are more sensitive to the toxic effects of asbestos than any other cells, and appear to be more sensitive than other cells to oxidant-induced DNA damage.

 Asbestos is both a fibrogenic and carcinogenic fibre. Some of its biological toxicity relates to its fibrous shape, and yet fibres of a similar shape are not considered harmful. For instance –  ‘amphibole’ asbestos fibres (crocidolite and amosite) are more predominantly associated with mesothelioma than chrysotile fibres, this is because amphibole fibres contain more iron, and their needle-like shape is more brittle.

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