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Am J Ind Med. 2009 Jun;52(6):464-70. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20694.

Asbestos fibers in para-aortic and mesenteric lymph nodes.

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Department of Respiratory Medicine, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland.



Asbestos fibers are known to accumulate in lung parenchyma and thoracic lymph nodes, but their presence and translocation into the extrapulmonary tissues need clarification. We assessed the presence of asbestos in the para-aortic (PA) and mesenteric (ME) lymph nodes.


PA and ME lymph nodes and lung tissue from 17 persons who underwent medicolegal autopsy for suspicion of asbestos-related disease and from five controls were analyzed for asbestos fibers using transmission electron microscopy.


High concentrations of amphibole asbestos fibers were detected in several lung tissue samples and in the respective PA and ME lymph nodes. The mean concentration for the 10 persons with a lung asbestos content of >/=1 million fibers/g of dry tissue (f/g) was 0.85 (<0.05-4.36) million f/g in the PA lymph nodes and 0.55 (<0.02-2.86) million f/g in the ME lymph nodes. The respective mean values for the 12 persons with a lung asbestos concentration of <1 million f/g were 0.07 for the PA lymph nodes and 0.03 million f/g for the ME nodes. The lung asbestos burden that predicted the detection of asbestos in abdominal lymph nodes was 0.45 million f/g.


In addition to their accumulation in lung tissue, asbestos fibers also collect in the retroperitoneal and the mesenteric lymph nodes. Even low-level occupational exposure results in the presence of crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, or chrysotile in these abdominal lymph nodes. Our results support the hypothesis of lymph drainage as an important translocation mechanism for asbestos in the human body.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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