The pathogenicity of long versus short fibre samples of amosite asbestos administered to rats by inhalation and intraperitoneal injection

J.M Davis, J Addison, R E Bolton, Ken Donaldson, A D Jones, T. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

For many years it has been accepted that fibre dimensions are the most important factor in the development of asbestos related disease with long fibres being more dangerous than short for all types of asbestos. This information has been derived from in vitro experiments and injection or implantation experiments since the kilogramme quantities of specially prepared dusts that are necessary for long term inhalation have not been available. The present study has taken advantage of the availability of a sample of amosite produced so that almost all fibres were less than 5 micron in length. The effects of this dust were compared to dust prepared from raw amosite that contained a very high proportion of long fibres. Previous data from studies with UICC amosite, which was intermediate in length, were also available for comparison. At the end of 12 months of dust inhalation, significantly more short fibre amosite was present in the lung tissue compared to the long but while the long fibre dust caused the development of widespread pulmonary fibrosis, no fibrosis at all was found in animals treated with short fibre. One third of animals treated with long fibre dust developed pulmonary tumours or mesotheliomas but no pulmonary neoplasms were found in animals treated with short fibre dust. Following intraperitoneal injection, the long fibre amosite produced mesotheliomas in 95% of animals with a mean induction period of approximately 500 days. With short fibre dust, only a single mesothelioma developed after 837 days. In previous inhalation studies with UICC amosite, relatively little pulmonary fibrosis had developed and only two benign pulmonary tumours. This would suggest that to produce a significant carcinogenic response in rat lung tissue amosite fibres must be longer than those in the UICC preparation. Following the injection of UICC amosite, however, mesotheliomas developed in the same proportion of animals and with the same mean induction period as with long fibre dust. From this it would appear that while very short fibres exhibit little carcinogenicity to either lung or mesothelial tissues, mesotheliomas can be produced by dust preparations consisting of shorter fibres than are needed to produce tumours.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-30
Number of pages16
JournalBritish journal of experimental pathology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1986

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • amosite asbestos
  • fibre length
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis


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