Nagoya Journal of Medical Science. 2014 February [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Aierken D, Okazaki Y, Chew SH, Sakai A, Wang Y, Nagai H, Misawa N, Kohyama N, Toyokuni S.


Asbestos was abundantly used in industry during the last century. Currently, asbestos confers a heavy social burden due to an increasing number of patients with malignant mesothelioma (MM), which develops after a long incubation period. Many studies have been conducted on the effects of the asbestos types that were most commonly used for commercial applications. However, there are few studies describing the effects of the less common types, or minor asbestos. We performed a rat carcinogenesis study using Japanese tremolite and Afghan anthophyllite. Whereas more than 50% of tremolite fibers had a diameter of < 500 nm, only a small fraction of anthophyllite fibers had a diameter of < 500 nm. We intraperitoneally injected 1 or 10 mg of asbestos into F1 Fischer-344/Brown-Norway rats. In half of the animals, repeated intraperitoneal injections of nitrilotriacetate (NTA), an iron chelator to promote Fenton reaction, were performed to evaluate the potential involvement of iron overload. Tremolite induced MM with a high incidence (96% with 10 mg; 52% with 1 mg), and males were more susceptible than females. Histology was confirmed using immunohistochemistry, and most MMs were characterized as the sarcomatoid or biphasic subtype. Unexpectedly NTA showed an inhibitory effect in females. In contrast, anthophyllite induced no MM after an observation period of 550 days. The results suggest that the carcinogenicity of anthophyllite is weaker than formerly reported, whereas that of tremolite is as potent as major asbestos as compared with our previous data.