Diseases caused by asbestos: mechanisms of injury and disease development

Int Immunopharmacol. 2002 Feb;2(2-3):191-200. doi: 10.1016/s1567-5769(01)00172-2.


Asbestos is a ubiquitous, naturally occurring fiber that has been linked to the development of malignant and fibrotic diseases of the lung and pleura. These diseases may be initiated by injury to epithelial cells and mesothelial cells by asbestos fibers through the formation of reactive oxygen intermediates. Elaboration of oxidants are also a consequence of inflammation, a hallmark of exposure to asbestos after inhalation or injection of asbestos fibers into animals. The type, size, and durability of asbestos fibers may be important in toxicity and pathogenicity of asbestos types. This review discusses the pathways of oxidant generation by asbestos fibers, cell-cell interaction that may initiate and perpetuate inflammation, cytokine release and proliferative responses to asbestos, and cell signaling pathways implicated in these events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asbestos / adverse effects*
  • Asbestosis / etiology*
  • Asbestosis / genetics
  • Asbestosis / immunology
  • Asbestosis / pathology*
  • Carcinogens / adverse effects*
  • Carcinoma, Bronchogenic / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Bronchogenic / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Bronchogenic / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Bronchogenic / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mesothelioma / etiology
  • Mesothelioma / genetics
  • Mesothelioma / immunology
  • Mesothelioma / pathology


  • Carcinogens
  • Asbestos