Toxicology and Pharmacology of the Lanthanides

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Broadly speaking, lanthanides interfere with normal metabolism in one of two general ways. The first is through specific biochemical interaction producing, as we shall see, a variety of toxic and pharmacologic sequelae. The second concerns the damage inflicted by radioactive lanthanides. Although the latter is an important matter related to such topical concerns as the safety of nuclear power plants and the dangers of nuclear weapons, it is not, in itself, a field of inquiry that is unique to the lanthanides. Rather, it belongs to the larger arena of radiation biology and biochemistry, a discussion of which lies outside the scope of this book. For this reason, the radiotoxicity of lanthanides is not given more than a passing mention in this chapter. Instead, we shall concentrate on the metabolic and physiological perturbations produced by nonradioactive lanthanides.