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Association Between Proinflammatory Responses of Respirable Silica Dust and Adverse Health Effects Among Dust-Exposed Workers

Zhou, Ting MD; Rong, Yi MD; Liu, Yuewei MD, PhD; Zhou, Yun MD; Guo, Jiali MD; Cheng, Wenjuan MD, MS; Wang, Haijiao MD, PhD; Chen, Weihong MD, PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: April 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 4 - p 459–465
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31824525ab
Original Articles

Objective: To evaluate proinflammatory responses induced by respirable silica dust samples and to analyze the role of those responses in explaining adverse health effects among dust-exposed workers in pottery factoryies and tungsten and tin mines.

Methods: Proinflammatory cytokines of cells were determined after being treated with silica dust samples. Adverse health effects of workers were calculated on the basis of a cohort study.

Results: Incidence and mortality of silicosis among tungsten miners were higher than those in other workers. The incidence of interleukin-1β levels was highestin tungsten mines, which was consistent with the incidence of silicosis in tungsten miners. The higher levels of TNF-α and interleukin-6 released from macrophages might be helpful in explaining increased mortalities from lung cancer among tin miners.

Conclusions: Interleukin-1β could be asensitive biomarker in predicting fibrogenic potential of silica dust and the risk of silicosis among dust-exposed workers.

From the Department of Occupational & Environmental Health and Ministry of Education, Key Lab of Environment and Health, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China.

Address correspondence to: Weihong Chen, MD, MS, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, 13 Hangkong Rd, Wuhan, Hubei 430030, China (

This work was financially supported by grants from the National Natural Scientific Foundation of China (30972451) and National Basic Research Program of China (2011CB503804).

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine