Asbestos burden in cases of mesothelioma from individuals from various regions of the United States

Ultrastructural Pathology. 2005 Sep-Oct;29(5):415-33. [Link]

Dodson RF, Graef R, Shepherd S, O’sullivan M, Levin J.

The University of Texas Health Center at Tyler, Tyler, Texas, USA.


Mesothelioma is a rare tumor that is considered an asbestos marker disease. It occurs in individuals following a longer latency period from first exposure than other asbestos-related diseases. The tumor also occurs in individuals with a wide range of exposures, including individuals with lower level or secondary exposures.

In the present study lung tissue from 54 individuals with a pathological diagnosis of mesothelioma was evaluated for ferruginous body and uncoated asbestos fiber content. The data were compared with an earlier study of mesothelioma cases from the northwestern United States. Tissue was prepared via a digestion procedure, with the collected digestate reviewed by light microscopy for quantification of asbestos bodies and analytical transmission electron microscopy for determination of uncoated fiber burden.

Twenty-seven cases in the present study had over 1000 ferruginous bodies per gram of dry tissue. The data suggest that amosite provides a more likely stimulus for ferruginous coating than the other forms of asbestos. All individuals were found to have asbestos fibers in their lung tissue. Amosite was the most commonly found fiber, with anthophyllite being the second most commonly found type of asbestos. The finding of tremolite in the tissue most often was associated with the finding of anthophyllite. A limited number of asbestos fibers of each type would have been seen in the light microscope, with the least detected being chrysotile. The majority of all fiber types were found as short fibers (< 8 mum), although some longer fibers were represented in each type of asbestos. The majority of the individuals were found to have mixed types of asbestos in their lungs.