Multiple roles of oxidants in the pathogenesis of asbestos-induced diseases

Free Radic Biol Med. 2003 May 1;34(9):1117-29. doi: 10.1016/s0891-5849(03)00060-1.


Exposure to asbestos causes cellular damage, leading to asbestosis, bronchogenic carcinoma, and mesothelioma in humans. The pathogenesis of asbestos-related diseases is complicated and still poorly understood. Studies on animal models and cell cultures have indicated that asbestos fibers generate reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS/RNS) and cause oxidation and/or nitrosylation of proteins and DNA. The ionic state of iron and its ability to be mobilized determine the oxidant-inducing potential of pathogenic iron-containing asbestos types. In addition to their capacity to damage macromolecules, oxidants play important roles in the initiation of numerous signal transduction pathways that are linked to apoptosis, inflammation, and proliferation. There is strong evidence supporting the premise that oxidants contribute to asbestos-induced lung injury; thus, strategies for reducing oxidant stress to pulmonary cells may attenuate the deleterious effects of asbestos.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asbestos / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Lung Diseases / metabolism*
  • Lung Diseases / pathology
  • Oxidants / metabolism*
  • Reactive Nitrogen Species / metabolism*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Oxidants
  • Reactive Nitrogen Species
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Asbestos