Neurotoxic Metals and Neuronal Signalling Processes

  • Daniel Minnema


Many of the metals are recognized neurotoxicants. The circumstances of human exposure to these metals varies. In the case of the chemotherapeutic agent cisplatin, exposure is the deliberate result of this drug’s use in cancer treatment. Exposure to neurotoxic concentrations of the essential element manganese is associated almost exclusively with manganese ore mining and steel mill operations. Although human neurotoxicity resulting from exposure to organic tin compounds has been associated mainly with industrial settings, the increasing use of these compounds (as heat stabilizers for PVC products, catalysts for polyurethane foam and silicone rubber elastomers, biocides, and anthelmintics) increases the risk of the general population to alkyltin exposure. Similarly, exposure to cadmium, which is used for coating and plating, batteries, paint pigments, plastic stabilizers, and metal alloys, is mainly an industrial problem at present, although the amount of cadmium in the general environment is increasing. Methylmercury contamination, largely from the wood-pulp industry, chlorine alkali plants, and the bacterial conversion of other mercury compounds released into the environment, continues to be a significant environmental problem, as illustrated by the bioaccumulation of methylmercury in many different fish populations. Since elemental mercury vapor is a known neurotoxicant, there recently has been some concern, based on anecdotal evidence, that the release of Hg° from amalgam dental fillings may induce neurological illnesses. Aluminum, which is used extensively (cooking utensils, antacids, antiperspirants), has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. The use of inorganic lead in a variety of materials, particularly paints, has made this metal prevalent in the general environment.


Nerve Growth Factor Lead Exposure Trophic Factor Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule Transmitter Release 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Minnema
    • 1
  1. 1.Hazleton WashingtonViennaUSA

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