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Vol. 26 No. 6
November-December 2004

Making an imPACt | Recent IUPAC technical reports and recommendations that affect the many fields of pure and applied chemistry.
See also www.iupac.org/publications/pac

Mechanisms of Immunosensitization to Metals (IUPAC Technical Report)

D.M. Templeton

Pure and Applied Chemistry
Vol. 76, No. 6, pp. 1255–1268 (2004)

Many metal ions produce immunosensitization. While metals common in the body, such as Na, K, Ca, Mg, and Fe, are immunologically inactive, some trace elements are strong immunosensitzers. Often, exposure to high local concentrations of a metal in the lung or on the skin initiates the immunological process and leads to acute or chronic disease. Exposures to such metals in the workplace, in connection with drug therapy, or in everyday life have considerable health consequences for society.

This present review summarizes our knowledge of the mechanisms by which certain trace elements evoke allergenicity. Some physiological electrolytes (e.g., Na+, K+) and macro-nutrients (e.g., Ca2+, Fe3+) are immunologically inactive. However, some trace elements essential for cell function (e.g., Co2+, Cu2+, Cr3+),as well as nonessential elements generally considered toxic (e.g., Hg species) or in use as therapeutic agents (e.g., some species of Pt and Au), can give rise to adverse immune reactions. Specific immunological responses to Ni, Co, Cr, Hg, Be, Cu, Pt, Pd, Ir, In, and Au are discussed. In general, these elements can activate T or B cells by specific receptor interactions, resulting in clonal expansion of a metal-specific lymphocyte and an immune response (typically dermatitis) upon re-exposure.

This report constitutes the background for another IUPAC project which goal is to evaluate and harmonize the use of specific biomarkers for metal sensitization.

www.iupac.org/publications/pac/2004/7606/7606x1255.html


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