Few studies have reported on polonium-210, a decay breakdown product of radon-222 and lead-210, in human lungs and there has been no study in patients with suspected lung cancer. The main aim of this "Polonium in vivo" study was to evaluate polonium-210 radioactivity in bronchopulmonary systems of smoker, ex-smoker and never smoker patients with suspected lung cancer. Alpha-spectrometric analyses were performed on bronchial lavage (BL) fluids from two Italian hospitals in 2013-2016. Socio-demographic, smoking, occupational and spirometric characteristics, lung cancer confirmation and histologic type and radon-222 concentration in patients' homes were collected. Seventy BL samples from never (n = 13), former (n = 35) and current smokers (n = 22) were analyzed; polonium-210 was detected in all samples from current and former smokers and in 54% of samples from never smokers (p < 0.001; median values: 1.20, 1.43 and 0.40 mBq, respectively). Polonium-210 levels were significantly higher in COPD versus no COPD patients (median value: 3.60 vs. 0.97 mBq; p = 0.007); former and current smokers, without and with COPD, had significantly increased polonium-210 levels (p = 0.012); 96% of confirmed versus 69% of non-confirmed lung cancer patients recorded detectable polonium-210 levels (p = 0.018). A polonium-210 detectable activity was measured in BL samples from all current and former smokers. Polonium-210 in the lungs could be the result of lead-210 entrapment, which, with its half-life of 22 years, could provide a continuous emission of alpha radioactivity, even many years after quitting, thus proposing a possible explanation for the onset of lung cancer, particularly in former smokers.

Zagà, V., Cattaruzza, M. S., Martucci, P., Pacifici, R., Trisolini, R., Bartolomei, P., Giacobbe, R., Patelli, M., Paioli, D., Esposito, M., Fabbri, V., Gallus, S., Gorini, G., The “Polonium In Vivo” Study: Polonium-210 in Bronchial Lavages of Patients with Suspected Lung Cancer, <<BIOMEDICINES>>, 2021; 9 (1): 1-11. [doi:10.3390/biomedicines9010004] [https://hdl.handle.net/10807/261232]

The “Polonium In Vivo” Study: Polonium-210 in Bronchial Lavages of Patients with Suspected Lung Cancer

Trisolini, Rocco;Paioli, Daniela;
2020

Abstract

Few studies have reported on polonium-210, a decay breakdown product of radon-222 and lead-210, in human lungs and there has been no study in patients with suspected lung cancer. The main aim of this "Polonium in vivo" study was to evaluate polonium-210 radioactivity in bronchopulmonary systems of smoker, ex-smoker and never smoker patients with suspected lung cancer. Alpha-spectrometric analyses were performed on bronchial lavage (BL) fluids from two Italian hospitals in 2013-2016. Socio-demographic, smoking, occupational and spirometric characteristics, lung cancer confirmation and histologic type and radon-222 concentration in patients' homes were collected. Seventy BL samples from never (n = 13), former (n = 35) and current smokers (n = 22) were analyzed; polonium-210 was detected in all samples from current and former smokers and in 54% of samples from never smokers (p < 0.001; median values: 1.20, 1.43 and 0.40 mBq, respectively). Polonium-210 levels were significantly higher in COPD versus no COPD patients (median value: 3.60 vs. 0.97 mBq; p = 0.007); former and current smokers, without and with COPD, had significantly increased polonium-210 levels (p = 0.012); 96% of confirmed versus 69% of non-confirmed lung cancer patients recorded detectable polonium-210 levels (p = 0.018). A polonium-210 detectable activity was measured in BL samples from all current and former smokers. Polonium-210 in the lungs could be the result of lead-210 entrapment, which, with its half-life of 22 years, could provide a continuous emission of alpha radioactivity, even many years after quitting, thus proposing a possible explanation for the onset of lung cancer, particularly in former smokers.
2020
Inglese
Zagà, V., Cattaruzza, M. S., Martucci, P., Pacifici, R., Trisolini, R., Bartolomei, P., Giacobbe, R., Patelli, M., Paioli, D., Esposito, M., Fabbri, V., Gallus, S., Gorini, G., The “Polonium In Vivo” Study: Polonium-210 in Bronchial Lavages of Patients with Suspected Lung Cancer, <<BIOMEDICINES>>, 2021; 9 (1): 1-11. [doi:10.3390/biomedicines9010004] [https://hdl.handle.net/10807/261232]
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