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144720 - no association between pyrite content.pdf (1007.26 kB)

No association between pyrite content and lung cell responses to coal particles

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 23:47 authored by Graeme ZoskyGraeme Zosky, Ellen BennettEllen Bennett, Pavez, M, Beamish, BB
There has been an increase in the identification of cases of coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP) in recent years around the world. While there are a range of possible explanations for this, studies have implicated the pyrite content of coal as a key determinant of CWP risk. However, experimental studies to support this link are limited. The aim of this study was to assess the association between the pyrite content, and subsequent release of bioavailable iron, in coal particles and the response of lung cells involved in the pathogenesis of CWP (epithelial cells, macrophages and fibroblasts). Using real-world Australian coal samples, we found no evidence of an association between the pyrite content of the coal and the magnitude of the detrimental cell response. We did find evidence of an increase in IL-8 production by epithelial cells with increasing bioavailable iron (p = 0.01), however, this was not linked to the pyrite content of the coal (p = 0.75) and we did not see any evidence of a positive association in the other cell types. Given the lack of association between the pyrite content of real-world coal particles and lung cell cytotoxicity (epithelial cells and macrophages), inflammatory cytokine production (epithelial cells, macrophages and fibroblasts), and cell proliferation (fibroblasts) our data do not support the use of coal pyrite content as a predictor of CWP risk.


Australian Coal Association Research Program


Publication title

Scientific Reports



Article number







Menzies Institute for Medical Research


Nature Publishing Group

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2021 the authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Prevention of human diseases and conditions

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