Immunological Effects of Asbestos Exposure

Though the devastating health effects of inhaling asbestos fibers are globally evident, the biology behind this epidemic is still very mysterious. Asbestos exposure of any kind is known to cause malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. However, the reasons behind the development of these particular diseases are still actively being studied around the world. One such study was recently conducted by Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine, focusing on the effect of asbestos in the immune system. This study was the direct response to the sharp increase of asbestos-related disease diagnoses in residents living near factories that in any way handled the substance. This 2005 occurrence sparked uproar in American communities and alarm in medical fields. The study specifically centered on the immunological alterations in patients with malignant mesothelioma.

Asbestos attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm warn of the dangers of unknowingly inhaling asbestos fibers. Those residents living near a factory known to use, or have used in the past, any amount of asbestos in their manufacturing are at risk of exposure. If you developed mesothelioma or any other related illness as the result of asbestos exposure, contact our office immediately to discuss your potential asbestos claim.

Of the six fibers associated with the generic term ‘asbestos,’ this study focused specifically on chrysotile, which is the most common asbestos mineral used in the United States, though it’s carcinogenic capacity is lower than other strains. Their findings suggest that contact between cells and asbestos may affect the human immune system and trigger a cascade of biological events.

These changes may have resulted from the immunological effects of asbestos on human immunocompetent cells and, as such, may provide valuable information that can be used in preventing the immunological changes seen in the occurrence and progression of asbestos-induced malignant diseases.

T cells from malignant mesothelioma patients express significantly more bcl-2 than healthy volunteers and asbestosis patients. This may suggest that the overexpression of bcl-2 in peripheral T cells is one of the markers of the occurrence of malignant mesothelioma in asbestos-exposed patients, although further study is necessary to determine whether many other cancer-bearing patients show the same change.

The researchers first exposed peripheral fresh T cells or T cell-derived cell lines to high doses of chrysotile for a short time and found that a human T-cell leukemia virus type-1 underwent DNA damage. This damage progressed with reactive oxygen species. These observations led them to believe that a lab experimental model of chronic exposure was necessary both to analyze the immunobiological effects of silicates during long-term exposure and to be able to extrapolate these experimental findings to clinical analyses.

Another interesting finding was obtained from analyses using bcl-2 expression in peripheral T cells. We performed factor analysis using various clinical limits and individual bcl-2 relative expression ratios obtained by real malignant mesothelioma patients. This analysis revealed the bcl-2 ratio, a past history of asbestos exposure, peripheral platelet counts and serum CRP values formed one factor and that each parameter was related.

Recent advances in immunomolecular studies have led to detailed analyses of the immunological effects of asbestos. Asbestos affects immunocompetent cells, and these effects may be associated with the pathophysiological development of complications in asbestos-exposed patients, such as malignant tumors. In addition, immunological analyses may lead to the new discovery of clinical tools for the modification of pathophysiological aspects of diseases, such as the regulation of tumor immunity using cell-mediated therapies, various cytokines and molecule-targeting therapies. As the incidence of asbestos-related malignancies is increasing and such malignancies have been a medical and social problem, efforts should be focused on developing a cure for these diseases to eliminate the nationwide anxiety about these malignancies.

Mesothelioma lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm understand that this is a complex issue, one that researchers and scientists continue to grapple with. Being diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease is confusing and stressful. If you developed a disease due to asbestos exposure, contact an asbestos attorney for a free consultation.

Free Consultation
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your email.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter your message.