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Mol Med Rep. 2017 May;15(5):3372-3378. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2017.6384. Epub 2017 Mar 24.

Immunomodulatory effects in workers exposed to naturally occurring asbestos fibers.

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Section of Occupational Medicine, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Catania, Catania, Italy.
Section of Occupational Medicine, Department of Biomedical, Odontoiatric, Morphological and Functional Images, University of Messina, Messina, Italy.
Section of Occupational Medicine, Department of Clinical and Molecular Sciences, Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, Italy.
Section of Human Anatomy and Histology, Department of Biomedical and Biotechnology Sciences, University of Catania, Catania, Italy.


Natural asbestiform fibers are defined 'naturally occurring asbestos' (NOA) and refer to the mineral as a natural component of soils or rocks. The release of NOA fibers into the air from rocks or soils by routine human activities or natural weathering processes represents a risk for human beings. Fluoro-edenite (FE) is a NOA fiber detected in the benmoreitic lava in the area of Biancavilla, South-west slope of Mt. Etna. The aim of the present study was to investigate FE immunotoxicity pathways in a group of 38 occupationally exposed construction workers, in order to find any biological markers of its effect. Subjects underwent respiratory function tests and HRCT total chest scanning. Serum IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8 and TNF-α were measured. The presence of PPs was significantly greater in subjects exposed than in the control (25 vs. 2). In subjects exposed to FE, IL-1β and TNF-α values were significantly higher than the controls. The previously observed increase of IL-1β and IL-18 showed a probable involvement of the proteic complex defined inflammosome by FE fibers.

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