Lung response to particulates with emphasis on asbestos and other fibrous dusts

Crit Rev Toxicol. 1985;14(1):33-86. doi: 10.3109/10408448509023764.


Many theories have been proposed to explain asbestosis and asbestos-related pulmonary disease. However, none of the theories give a completely plausible explanation for the pathogenesis. Recently, attention has been drawn to a theory that the fibrogenicity or carcinogenicity of fibrous dust particles is related to fiber diameter and length rather than to chemical properties. This theory may help partially elucidate the disease process but is still far from solving the enigma of pulmonary fibrosis or carcinogenesis. The theory cannot explain the absence of these pathological effects among fiberglass workers or experimental animals exposed by inhalation (even though mesotheliomas are induced by intrapleural implantation and fiber dimension-related fibrogenicity is demonstrated by intratracheal injection). Little information regarding the pulmonary response to manmade fibrous particles is available in animals following inhalation exposure. Attempts should be made to confirm the absence of adverse effects using animal inhalation experiments even though to this point there is no conclusive evidence that either lung cancer or pulmonary diseases can be produced among employees in manmade fiber industries. A new research trend seems concentrated on testing the durability of asbestos or manmade fibers. This is based on the concept that biological effects of fibrous particles are the result of relative durability and that particles which can be fragmented or shortened may be less pathogenic. In the last two decades, considerable understanding about pulmonary fibrosis and carcinogenesis of asbestos has been achieved by clinical and animal experiments. In vitro tests including cytotoxicity, hemolysis, immunology, and enzyme biochemistry have provided important information on the interrelationships among these various biological effects of asbestos.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asbestos / adverse effects*
  • Asbestosis / metabolism
  • Asbestosis / pathology
  • Dust / adverse effects*
  • Glass
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Mesothelioma / etiology
  • Mesothelioma / pathology
  • Particle Size
  • Pleura / drug effects
  • Protein Biosynthesis


  • Dust
  • Asbestos