Journal of Molecular Histology

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 553–563 | Cite as

Lead neurotoxicity: effects on brain nitric oxide synthase

  • Concepción Nava-Ruiz
  • Marisela Méndez-Armenta
  • Camilo Ríos
Review Paper


Lead (Pb), a ubiquitous and potent neurotoxicant, induces several neurophysiological and behavioural changes, while Pb alters the function of multiple organs and systems, it primarily affects the central nervous system. In human adults, encephalopathy resulting from Pb intoxication is often characterized by sleeplessness, poor attention span, vomiting, convulsions and coma; in children, Pb-induced encephalopathy is associated with mental dullness, vomiting, irritability and anorexia; diminished cognitive function resulting in a mental deficit has been also observed during Prolonged exposure to Pb. Pb can produce oxidative stress, disrupt the blood–brain barrier and alter several Ca2+-dependent processes, including physiological processes that involve nitric oxide synthesis on central nervous system in development and adult animals. This review summarizes recent evidence showing that Pb can interfere with the production of nitric oxide and can disrupt the function of nitric oxide synthase. Lead interferes with nitric oxide-related physiological mechanisms, and Pb neurotoxicity may affect processes involved in learning and memory.


Lead Nitric oxide Nitric oxide synthase Neurotoxicity 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Concepción Nava-Ruiz
    • 1
    • 3
  • Marisela Méndez-Armenta
    • 1
  • Camilo Ríos
    • 2
  1. 1.Lab. Neuropatología ExperimentalInstituto Nacional de Neurología y Neurocirugía Manuel Velasco SuárezMexico CityMexico
  2. 2.Depto. NeuroquímicaInstituto Nacional de Neurología y Neurocirugía Manuel Velasco SuarezMexico CityMexico
  3. 3.Doctorado en Ciencias BiológicasUniversidad Autónoma MetropolitanaMexico CityMexico

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