Hamster peritoneal macrophages were grown in cell culture and their response to various conditions was examined. The cultures responded favorably to high concentrations of serum and to medium which had been preconditioned by contact with tumor cells. After 2–3 days of adaptation, they entered into a period of stability which lasted from the 4th to the 9th day. Macrophage cultures in this stable phase were treated with various samples of mineral dusts and their response determined by counting the number of viable macrophages/cm2 at intervals over a period of 72 hr. Crystalline silica Snowit was found to be nontoxic. Amorphous silica Fransil caused a characteristic cytotoxic effect and a rapid decline in cell population at doses less than 150 µg/5 x 105 cells. Of the three different kinds of asbestos used, chrysotile was toxic and amosite and crocidolite nontoxic at equivalent concentrations. A comparison of two preparations of chrysotile which differed in surface area showed that weight rather than surface area determines toxicity. Pretreatment of chrysotile with tryptose phosphate broth under drastic conditions accelerated but did not increase the final intensity of the cytotoxic effect.

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