Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine. 2014 August 19 [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Lee S, Matsuzaki H, Kumagai-Takei N, Yoshitome K, Maeda M, Chen Y, Kusaka M, Urakami K, Hayashi H, Fujimoto W, Nishimura Y, Otsuki T.


Silica particles and asbestos fibers, which are known as typical causatives of pneumoconiosis, induce lung fibrosis. Moreover, silicosis patients often complicate with autoimmune diseases, and asbestos-exposed patients suffer from malignant diseases such as pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer. We have been conducting experimental studies to investigate altered regulation of self-tolerance caused by silica exposure, including analyses using specimens such as plasma and immunocompetent cells obtained from silicosis patients, as a means of examining the supposition that silica exposure induces molecular and cellular biological alterations of immune cells. These approaches have resulted in the detection of several specific autoantibodies, alterations of CD95/Fas and its related molecules, and evidence of chronic activation of responder T cells and regulatory T cells following silica exposure. In this review, we present details of our investigations as an introduction to scientific approaches examining the immunological effects of environmental and occupational substances.