Asbestos exposure and autoimmune disease

Jean C. Pfau, Curtis W. Noonan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Autoimmune disease results from the body producing an inappropriate immune response against its own tissue or individual tissue components. Such conditions can result in severe and chronic morbidity and can be an important cause of mortality. Little is known about the causes of systemic autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and systemic sclerosis, but they are believed to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. This article describes what is known about asbestos as one of the suspected environmental risk factors for these conditions. The potential role of asbestos as a risk factor for systemic autoimmune diseases is presented within the context of other known or suspected environmental risk factors for autoimmunity. This review focuses both on past clinical observations of immunological responses in asbestos-exposed populations as well as the emerging animal and epidemiological literature exploring this association. Finally, this article explores the potential for an interrelated mechanism between asbestos exposure, autoimmunity, and the asbestos-related lung pathologies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Environmental Health
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780444639523
ISBN (Print)9780444639516
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Asbestos
  • Autoantibody
  • Autoimmune
  • Fibrosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Silica
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Systemic sclerosis


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