Inhalation of asbestos, a mineral extensively used in a variety of applications, is strongly associated with malignant mesothelioma (MM), a fatal cancer of the pleura. Soluble mesothelin-related peptides (SMRP) are a promising biomarker suggested for the screening of MM in healthy asbestos-exposed subjects. In the present study a comparison of micronucleus (Mn) frequencies in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) between 44 asbestos-exposed and 22 control individuals has been performed, and the correlation with serum SMRP has been examined. SMRP levels were found to be significantly higher in subjects exposed to asbestos and in their various subgroups than in controls. Concerning micronucleated lymphocytes, a statistically significant difference from controls was seen in the percentages of both micronucleated mononucleated lymphocytes (MnMNL) and micronucleated binucleated lymphocytes (MnBNL), but the difference was markedly higher for the percentage of micronucleated polynucleated lymphocytes (MnPNL). With respect to the correlation between the frequency of the three types of micronucleated lymphocytes and serum-SMRP values of asbestos-exposed subjects, it was statistically significant for MnMNL, but not for MnBNL and MnPNL.
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