JOURNAL OF TOXICOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH. PART A
The presence of asbestos bodies (ABs) in lung parenchyma is considered a histopathologic
hallmark of past exposure to asbestos fibers, of which there was a population of longer fibers.
The mechanisms underlying AB formation are complex, involving inflammatory responses and
iron (Fe) metabolism. Thus, the responsiveness to AB formation is variable, with some individuals
appearing to be poor AB formers. The aim of this study was to disclose the possible role of genetic
variants of genes encoding inflammasome and iron metabolism proteins in the ability to form ABs
in a population of 81 individuals from North East Italy, who died after having developed
malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). This study included 86 genetic variants distributed in
10 genes involved in Fe metabolism and 7 genetic variants in two genes encoding for inflammasome
molecules. Genotypes/haplotypes were compared according to the number of lung ABs.
Data showed that the NLRP1 rs12150220 missense variant (H155L) was significantly correlated
with numbers of ABs in MPM patients. Specifically, a low number of ABs was detected in
individuals carrying the NLRP1 rs12150220 A/T genotype. Our findings suggest that the NLRP1
inflammasome might contribute in the development of lung ABs. It is postulated that the NLRP1
missense variant may be considered as one of the possible host genetic factors contributing to
individual variability in coating efficiency, which needs to be taken when assessing occupational
exposure to asbestos.