To elucidate the features of the asbestos fibers contributing to the induction of human malignant mesothelioma, we used high-resolution analytical electron microscopy to determine the type, number, and dimensions of asbestos fibers in lung and mesothelial tissues in 168 cases of mesothelioma.
Results: 1. Asbestos fibers were present in almost all of the lung and mesothelial tissues from the mesothelioma cases. 2. The most common types of asbestos fibers in lung were either an admixture of chrysotile with amphiboles, amphibole alone, and occasionally chrysotile alone. In mesothelial tissues, most asbestos fibers were chrysotile. 3. In lung, amosite fibers were greatest in number followed by chrysotile, crocidolite, tremolite/actinolite, and anthophyllite. In mesothelial tissues, chrysotile fibers were 30.3 times more common than amphiboles. 4. In some mesothelioma cases, the only asbestos fibers detected in either lung or mesothelial tissue were chrysotile fibers. 5. The average number of asbestos fibers in both lung and mesothelial tissues was two orders of magnitude greater than the number found in the general population. 6. The majority of asbestos fibers in lung and mesothelial tissues were shorter than 5 micro m in length.
Conclusions: 1) Fiber analysis of both lung and mesothelial tissues must be done to determine the types of asbestos fibers associated with the induction of human malignant mesothelioma; 2) short, thin asbestos fibers should be included in the list of fiber types contributing to the induction of human malignant mesothelioma; 3) RESULTS support the induction of human malignant mesothelioma by chrysotile.