Rats injected intrapleurally with either crocidolite or chrysotile asbestos or silica or saline, were killed at intervals up to 2 years of age. The pleural cavities were washed out immediately after death and the washing used for enumerating cells. In addition tissue from granulomas and mesotheliomas was sectioned and stained for lysosomal enzymes. The total cellular response to silica found in the washout showed a pronounced increase when compared with either asbestos dust or controls; crocidolite gave a decreased response in an early group of the individual cells studied. The most important finding was a decrease in the number of mast cells found to be associated with the injection of both types of fibres. Crocidolite induced granulomas showed the presence of lysosomal enzymes and non-specific esterase in mononuclear cells and giant cells, even two years after injection. With chrysotile, giant cells were only present up to three to four months, and few positively staining cells were noted after 18 months. While the response of cells in the pleural cavity does not differ greatly between the two types of fibres, that in the granulomas highlights the longer lasting action of crocidolite.
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