Cancer Science 2015 May 2 [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Xu J, Alexander DB, Iigo M, Hamano H, Takahashi S, Yokoyama T, Kato M, Usami I, Tokuyama T, Tsutsumi M, Tamura M, Oguri T, Niimi A, Hayashi Y, Yokoyama Y, Tonegawa K, Fukamachi K, Futakuchi M, Sakai Y, Suzui M, Kamijima M, Hisanaga N, Omori T, Hirose A, Kanno J, Nakae D, Tsuda H.


Exposure to asbestos results in serious risk of developing lung and mesothelial diseases. Currently, there are no biomarkers that can be used to diagnose asbestos exposure. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether the levels or detection rate of chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 3 (CCL3) in the serum are elevated in persons exposed to asbestos. The primary study group consisted of 76 healthy subjects not exposed to asbestos and 172 healthy subjects possibly exposed to asbestos. The secondary study group consisted of 535 subjects possibly exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with pleural plaque (412), benign hydrothorax (10), asbestosis (86), lung cancer (17), and malignant mesothelioma (10). All study subjects who were possibly exposed to asbestos had a certificate of asbestos exposure issued by the Japanese Ministry of Health Labour and Welfare. For the primary study group, levels of serum CCL3 did not differ between the two groups. However, the detection rate of CCL3 in the serum of healthy subjects possibly exposed to asbestos (30.2%) was significantly higher (p<0.001) than for the control group (6.6%). The pleural plaque, benign hydrothorax, asbestosis, and lung cancer groups had serum CCL3 levels and detection rates similar to that of healthy subjects possibly exposed to asbestos. CCL3 was detected in the serum of nine of the ten patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. Three of the patients with malignant mesothelioma had exceptionally high CCL3 levels. Malignant mesothelioma cells from four biopsy cases and an autopsy case were positive for CCL3, possibly identifying the source of the CCL3 in the three malignant mesothelioma patients with exceptionally high serum CCL3 levels. In conclusion, a significantly higher percentage of healthy persons possibly exposed to asbestos had detectable levels of serum CCL3 compared to healthy unexposed control subjects.