Mineral-associated hepatic injury: a report of seven cases with X-ray microanalysis

Hum Pathol. 1991 Nov;22(11):1120-7. doi: 10.1016/0046-8177(91)90264-p.


The patterns of hepatic injury associated with various minerals were studied in seven patients. The subjects included one patient who was a sandblaster (silica by inhalation), one patient who was a dental laboratory technician (silica and chromium-cobalt alloy by inhalation), one patient with inhalational talcum powder abuse, and four chronic intravenous (IV) drug abusers (talc by IV injection). In all cases, the liver was examined by light and polarizing microscopy, and by scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive x-ray microanalysis. In the two patients with silica exposure, silica-containing sclerohyaline nodules were diffusely present in portal tracts and lobules. Both chromium-cobalt alloy and silica were present in the dental technician. In contrast, in all cases of talc exposure, aggregates of talc-laden macrophages were present in portal and centrilobular areas. Three IV drug abusers and the talcum powder abuser had histologic evidence of chronic hepatitis, most probably of viral etiology. We conclude that mineral type plays an important role in the pathogenesis and fibrogenesis of hepatic lesions. Compared with silica, talc primarily elicits a macrophage response without granuloma formation or fibrosis. Hepatic silicosis is a rare complication in dental laboratory technicians, and chromium-cobalt alloy may contribute to hepatic injury and fibrosis in this setting.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Electron Probe Microanalysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases / etiology*
  • Liver Diseases / pathology*
  • Male
  • Silicosis / etiology
  • Silicosis / pathology*
  • Talc / adverse effects*


  • Talc