Uncovering the true culprit behind nanofiber-induced lung disease

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

The pathogenic potential of inhaling the inert fibrous nanomaterials used in thermal insulation (such as asbestos or fiberglass) is actually connected not to their chemical composition, but instead to their geometrical characteristics and size. This was revealed by a study, published on 3 January 2024 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, conducted on glass nanofibers by a French-Chinese team including a CNRS chemist.

The reason for this is the inability of the macrophages naturally present in pulmonary alveolar tissue to eliminate foreign bodies that are too large. The study was initially conducted in vitro with electrochemical nanosensors, and revealed that when confronted with inert nanofibers over 15 microns in length, the cells are unable to distend enough to entirely encapsulate them within their "digestive" vesicle. This results in leaked secretions that are very harmful for the alveolar walls, which this study detected, characterized, and quantified for the first time. An experiment on rats subsequently showed that regular unprotected inhalation of similar inert fibrous nanometerials, whatever they may be, causes repeated pulmonary lesions that can eventually lead to the development of fibroma.

This discovery poses a challenge for the use of inert nanofibre felts in construction, which had heretofore been deemed to be less harmful than the asbestos it replaced, but that in reality could present the same health risks for those handling it.

Journal reference:

Qi, Y.-T., et al. (2024). Nanosensor detection of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species leakage in frustrated phagocytosis of nanofibres. Nature Nanotechnology. doi.org/10.1038/s41565-023-01575-0.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
Feasting for immunity: Study highlights foods that bolster your body's defenses