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J Immunol. 1994 Oct 1;153(7):3237-44.

Asbestos stimulates IL-8 production from human lung epithelial cells.

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Environmental Immunology and Neurobiology Section, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709.


Studies have indicated that soluble products, including chemotactic factors, released by activated lung macrophages and fibroblasts are critical mediators in the pathogenesis of asbestos-induced pulmonary fibrosis. We provide evidence that mediators produced by lung epithelial cells in response to asbestos may also contribute to lung disease. In the present study, the carcinogenic and fibrogenic fibers, chrysotile and crocidolite asbestos, were shown to directly stimulate the human pulmonary type-II epithelial cell line, A549, and to a lesser degree primary human bronchial epithelial cells, to elicit the chemotactic cytokine IL-8 in the absence of endogenous stimuli such as IL-1 and TNF. That the membrane signaling events responsible for asbestos-induced IL-8 production are distinct from those responsible for IL-8 induction by cytokines was confirmed by using membrane-stabilizing agents and protein synthesis inhibitors. Stimulation was not observed with nonfibrogenic fibers, wollastonite and titanium dioxide, and was the direct result of asbestos-induced initiation of transcription. Asbestos failed to stimulate the release of TNF, IL-1 beta, or monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 in A549 or primary bronchial epithelial cells, indicating that cytokine secretion by asbestos is highly selective. However, a slight release of IL-1 alpha, probably preformed, was released in human bronchial epithelial cells. These data suggest that epithelial cells may, in addition to macrophages and fibroblasts, be an important effector cell in the immunopathogenesis of asbestos-associated diseases and in particular, in the neutrophilic infiltration that is commonly observed after asbestos exposure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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