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Chemistry International
Vol. 23, No.3
May 2001


New Projects

Immunochemistry of Metal Sensitization

A number of metals are immunological sensitizers in humans. Examples include occupational exposures to Ni, Co, and Cr; inhalation of Pt compounds and the possibility of sensitization to chloroplatinic catalysts in silicone implants; beryllium-related lung disease; and exposure to components of alloys used in joint replacements and skeletal stabilization. In general, activation of the immune system occurs when the metal ion (hapten) binds to an endogenous protein carrier, altering its structure and causing it to become antigenic. T-cells may recognize metal-modified peptides or the T-cell's MHC class II-peptide complex may itself be modified by a metal ion. The nature of the metal hapten-carrier complex has not been systematically reviewed for metals that are important occupational or iatrogenic immunosensitizers. New immunological methods are being developed for clinical evaluation of immune sensitization by a number of occupationally and iatrogenically important metals.

IUPAC has approved a two-year project to evaluate and systematize the application of these methods, and to produce a critical examination of the molecular structural foundations of the sensitizing response. Comments from the chemistry community are welcome and should be addressed to the task group chairman,

Prof. Douglas M. Templeton, Department of Lab
Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto,
Medical Sciences Building, Room 6302, 1 Kings College
Circle, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A8, Canada; Tel.: +1 416 978 3972; Fax: +1 416 978 5959; E-mail: [email protected] See for project description and update.


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