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eISSN: 1643-3750

A quantitative evaluation of brain dysfunction and body-burden of toxic metals

David A. Geier, Harold T. Pretorius, Nicole M. Richards, Mark R. Geier

Med Sci Monit 2012; 18(7): CR425-431

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.883210

Published: 2012-06-28


Background:    Toxic metal exposure (e.g. Hg, Pb, As) exposure is known to induce significant adverse effects on human brain function. The aim this study was to assess toxic metal body-burden in relation to potential brain dysfunction in patients diagnosed with neurological disorders (NDs).
    Material/Methods:    The Liberty Institutional Review Board (Deland, FL) approved the present study. Quantitative, fractionated, random urinary porphyrin testing (µg/L) from the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act/Amendment (CLIA)-approved Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp) and cortical perfusion index (CPi) values from single-photon-emission-computed-tomography (SPECT) brain scans were employed to evaluate a prospective cohort of qualifying patients with diagnosed NDs (n=52) presenting for medical care at an endocrinology practice in the Cincinnati, OH area.
    Results:    Patients with more severe in comparison to mild brain dysfunction had significant increases in the mean urinary concentration of uroporphyrins (uP), coproporphyrins I (cP I), and total cP (cP I + III), as well as a trend towards significantly increased mean urinary concentration of pentacarboxyporphyins (5cxP) and cP III. A significant positive correlation between Hg body-burden associated porphyrins (5cxP + cP I + cP III) and increased brain dysfunction was observed.
    Conclusions:    The present study associated brain dysfunction with Hg body-burden in a cohort of patients diagnosed with NDs, but the contributions of other heavy metals or genetic factors cannot be ruled-out. Additional studies should be conducted to evaluate the consistency of the present findings with examinations of other populations.

Keywords: Humans, Male, Heme - biosynthesis, Female, Demography, Coproporphyrins - urine, Brain - physiopathology, Body Burden, Aged, 80 and over, Aged, Metals, Heavy - adverse effects, Middle Aged, Nervous System Diseases - urine



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