Haemolysis by asbestos fibres results from an increase in membrane permeability and not from rupture of red blood cells (RBC). The effect of chrysotile asbestos on RBC is at least partly, if not completely, attributable to lipid extraction and adsorption on to the fibres. This was suggested by the hyperbolic relationship between the haemolytic activity of chrysotile and the relative concentration of both chrysotile and RBC. Moreover, it was shown that pre-incubation of chrysotile with lipids, either as RBC membranes or with pure lipids in the form of liposomes, prevents haemolysis.
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