Synchrotron X-ray microscopy reveals early calcium and iron interaction with crocidolite fibers in the lung of exposed mice

Lorella Pascolo, Giuliano Zabucchi, Alessandra Gianoncelli, George Kourousias, Elisa Trevisan, Ernesto Pascotto, Claudia Casarsa, Chris Ryan, Monica Lucattelli, Giuseppe Lungarella, Eleonora Cavarra, Barbara Bartalesi, Marina Zweyer, Francesca Cammisuli, Mauro Melato, Violetta Borelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human exposure to asbestos can cause a wide variety of lung diseases that are still a current major health concern, even if asbestos has been banned in many countries.It has been shown in many studies that asbestos fibers, ingested by alveolar macrophages, disrupt lung iron homeostasis by sequestering iron. Calcium can also be deposited on the fibers. The pathways along which iron and above all calcium interact with fibers are still unknown. Our aim was that of investigating if the iron accumulation induced by the inhaled asbestos fibers also involves calcium ions accumulation. Lung sections of asbestos-exposed mice were analyzed using an extremely sensitive procedure available at the synchrotron facilities, that provides morphological and chemical information based on X-ray fluorescence microspectroscopy (μ-XRF). In this study we show that (1) where conventional histochemical procedures revealed only weak deposits of iron and calcium, μ-XRF analysis is able to detect significant deposits of both iron and calcium on the inhaled asbestos fibers; (2) the extent of the deposition of these ions is proportionally directly related and (3) iron and calcium deposition on inhaled asbestos fibers is concomitant with the appearance of inflammatory and hyperplastic reactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-120
Number of pages10
JournalToxicology Letters
Publication statusPublished - Jan 22 2016


  • Animal model
  • Asbestos
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Synchrotron X-ray microscopy
  • X-ray fluorescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


Dive into the research topics of 'Synchrotron X-ray microscopy reveals early calcium and iron interaction with crocidolite fibers in the lung of exposed mice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this