Biomarkers in risk assessment of asbestos exposure

Mutat Res. 2005 Nov 11;579(1-2):6-21. doi: 10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2005.02.022. Epub 2005 Aug 19.


Developments in the field of molecular epidemiology and toxicology have given valuable tools for early detection of impending disease or toxic condition. Morbidity due to respiratory distress, which may be due to environmental and occupational exposure, has drawn attention of researchers worldwide. Among the occupational exposure to respiratory distress factors, fibers and particles have been found to be main culprits in causing diseases like asbestosis, pleural plaques, mesotheliomas and bronchogenic carcinomas. An early detection of the magnitude of exposure or its' effect using molecular end points is of growing importance. The early inflammatory responses like release of the inflammatory cells collected by non-invasive methods give an indication of the unwanted exposure and susceptibility to further complications. Since free radicals like O2-, OH, OOH, NO, NOO, etc. are involved in the progression of asbestos-related diseases and lead to cytogenetic changes, an evaluation of antioxidant states reducing equivalents like GSH and ROS generation can be a good biomarker. The cytogenetic end points like chromosomal aberration, micronucleus formation and sister chromatid exchange give indication of genetic damage, hence they are used as effective biomarkers. New techniques like fluorimetric analysis of DNA unwinding, alkaline elution test, fluorescent in situ hybridization and comet assay are powerful tools for early detection of initiation of disease process and may help in planning strategies for minimizing morbidity related to asbestos fiber exposure. The present review article covers in detail possible biomarkers for risk assessment of morbidity due to fibers/particles in exposed population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asbestos / adverse effects
  • Asbestos / toxicity*
  • Biomarkers* / analysis
  • Cytogenetic Analysis / methods
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / analysis
  • Risk Assessment / methods


  • Biomarkers
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Asbestos