The mechanism of carcinogenic action of asbestos remains unclear but the physical properties of the fiber appear to be important in this process. Asbestos may cause multinucleate giant cell formation primarily by interfering with the normal course of mitosis. We evaluated the cytotoxicity and multinucleate giant cell formation induced by crocidolite and chrysotile in Chinese hamster lung fibroblast (V79 cell) with observation of phagocytic activities. Asbestos fibers were rapidly ingested by V79 cells and most fibers were inside the cells. Cytotoxicity was evaluated by observing inhibition of V79 cell proliferation with trypan blue exclusion test. For determination of frequency of multinucleate giant cells, the cells were treated with different doses of crocidolite or chrysotile for 72 hours. Crocidolite and chrysotile induced cytotoxicity in V79 cells in a dose-dependent manner. The pattern of inhibition of cell proliferation is similar for both types of fibers, but chrysotile was more potent at the highest level (20.0 micrograms/ml) of fiber concentration. There was a good relationship (regression coefficientcrocidolite = 0.02, P < 0.01; regression coefficientchrysotile = 0.04, P < 0.01) between the dose of both asbestos fibers and the frequency of multinucleate giant cells. Chrysotile was again more potent at inducing multinucleate giant cells in higher levels of fiber concentrations. We found that asbestos fibers were cytotoxic after phagocytosis and induced multinucleate giant cells by interfering mitosis.
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