Fluoro-edenite fibres induce lung cell apoptosis: an in vivo study

Histology and Histopathology. 2008 Mar;23(3):319-26. [Link]

Loreto C, Rapisarda V, Carnazza ML, Musumeci G, Valentino M, Fenga C, Martinez G.

Department of Anatomy, Diagnostic Pathology, Forensic Medicine, Hygiene and Public Health, University of Catania, Catania, Italy. carla.loreto@unict.it


We previously showed that apoptosis in the lungs of sheep exposed to fluoro-edenite fibres is induced via the receptor pathway. The present study was performed to gain further insights into the mechanisms of activation of programmed cell death induced by the fibres.

Fluoro-edenite fibres are similar in size and morphology to some amphibolic asbestos fibres. They have been found in benmoreitic lavas, in the local stone quarry, in building materials and in road paving at Biancavilla, a town in eastern Sicily (Italy), where epidemiological surveys revealed a cluster of mortality from pleural mesothelioma. Inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause chronic inflammation and carcinogenesis. Since fluoro-edenite has been shown to activate the apoptotic process, we set out to characterise the expression of apoptosis-regulating proteins in fluoro-edenite-exposed lung disease and sought to determine if apoptosis results from fluoro-edenite exposure.

Lung tissue from apparently healthy sheep habitually grazing near Biancavilla was processed for immunohistochemical localisation of bcl-2 and bax. Results showed epithelial and interstitial bax overexpression, especially in cells directly in contact with the fibres, and negative bcl-2 immunoexpression. TUNEL-positive cells were detected in alveoli and connective tissue.

The integrity of alveolar epithelium and alveolar apoptosis are critical determinants in the pathways that initiate fibrogenesis in the lung and fibroblastic foci are usually found close to abnormal or denuded alveolar epithelium. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that apoptosis is an important mechanism for removing cells with irreparable fluoro-edenite-induced genetic changes that predispose them to a neoplastic evolution.

Keywords: Fluoro-edenite, Lung, Bcl-2, Bax, TUNEL