Case series: rheumatological manifestations attributed to exposure to Libby Asbestiform Amphiboles


An increased risk for Systemic Autoimmune Diseases (SAID) has been reported in Libby, Montana, where extensive exposures to fibrous amphiboles occurred due to mining and use of asbestos-laden vermiculite. In addition, positive antinuclear autoantibody tests are associated with exposure to Libby Asbestiform Amphiboles (LAA) in both humans and mice. Among 6603 subjects who underwent health screening at the Center for Asbestos Related Diseases (CARD, Libby MT), 13.8% were diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, with prevalence values for the most common SAID being significantly higher than expected in the United States. Among the CARD screening population, serological and clinical profiles are diverse, representing symptoms and autoantibodies reflective of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, and other rheumatic syndromes, including undifferentiated connective tissue disease (UCTD). Based upon screening of medical records by physicians with rheumatology expertise, the evolving nature of rheumatological disease in these patients is often atypical, with mixed diagnostic criteria and with a 1:1 male-to-female ratio. Through the Libby Epidemiology Research Program, cases were identified that illustrate clinical autoimmune outcomes with LAA exposure. Our goal was to better characterize SAID in Libby, MT in order to improve recognition of autoimmune outcomes associated with this exposure. In view of recent discoveries of widespread exposure to fibrous minerals in several areas of the U.S. and globally, it is critical to evaluate rheumatologic manifestations in other cohorts so that screening, surveillance, and diagnostic procedures are able to detect and recognize potential autoimmune outcomes of asbestos exposure.




Diegel, Roger, Brad Black, Jean C. Pfau, Tracy McNew, Curtis Noonan, and Raja Flores. "Case series: rheumatological manifestations attributed to exposure to Libby Asbestiform Amphiboles." Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health 81, no. 15 (June 2018): 734-747. DOI:10.1080/15287394.2018.1485124.
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