Patients with asbestos related malignant mesothelioma excrete high levels of modified nucleosides in their urine. The purpose of the present report was to explore further the usefulness of measuring these breakdown products of transfer RNA (tRNA) in male asbestos insulation workers who are at high neoplastic risk but without clinical signs of malignancy. Modified nucleoside levels (psi, m'A, m'I, m2G, and ac4C) were used as discriminator variables in a computer generated discriminant function in which 96% of the controls and 95% of the insulation workers were correctly classified. It was also found, using a similar multiple regression model, that 10 of 13 were correctly classified as having normal chest radiographs and 27 of 30 asbestos exposed subjects as exhibiting alterations in either the parenchyma, pleura, or both. The results suggest that measuring modified nucleosides levels in the urine of asbestos exposed workers, and perhaps others exposed to carcinogenic agents, has the potential for identifying, through multivariate statistical techniques, individuals who are at high neoplastic risk.
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