Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 555–567 | Cite as

Metallothioneins and detoxification. Is the use of detoxication protein for mts a language abuse?

  • Richard P. Cosson
  • Claude Amiard-Triquet
  • Jean-Claude Amiard
Part III Physiological and Toxicological Aspects of Metals


Our own results and a literature review led us to reconsider the detoxifying function of MTs in living organisms. Despite the fact that many authors have observed a synthesis or a level increase of MTs as a response to toxic metal uptake, arguments exist which tend us to give to MTs a strict zinc homeostasic function. Many experiments have been conducted using non-natural routes of exposure and/or concentrations far from those observed even in heavily polluted environments. Zinc is the only metal for which a primary induction has been established. Correlations between zinc and MTs levels are frequently observed, specially at the early stages of life. Our knowledge about metallic cluster structure and our experimental results about inter-metallic competition for binding-sites on the apoprotein, support the idea of substitution processes instead of de novo synthesis in most cases of contamination, leading frequently to acclimation.


Zinc Polluted Environment Living Organism Toxic Metal Level Increase 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard P. Cosson
    • 1
  • Claude Amiard-Triquet
    • 1
  • Jean-Claude Amiard
    • 1
  1. 1.Service d'Ecotoxicologie, URA CNRS 1356, Faculté de PharmacieUniversité de NantesNantes CedexFrance

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