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In vivo effects of lead on erythrocytes following chronic exposure through drinking water

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More than 95% of lead, a environmental heavy metal, entering into blood accumulates in erythrocytes suggesting erythrocytes as an important target of lead toxicity. Recent studies reported that erythrocytes could contribute to blood coagulation via phosphatidylserine (PS) exposure in erythrocytes. However,in vivo effects of chronic lead exposure especially by drinking water on procoagulant activity of erythrocytes have not been studied yet. In the present study, we investigated the effects of chronic exposure of lead by drinking water on erythrocytes in rats. Groups of 40 male rats were provided with drinking water containing various concentrations of lead for 4 weeks and complete blood cell count, procoagulant activities of erythrocytes and platelets were evaluated with basic inspections on body weight and food/water consumption. The administration of lead containing drinking water increased the blood lead level (BLL) in a dose-dependent manner up to 22.39±2.26 μg/dL. Water consumption was significantly decreased while food consumption or body weight gain was not affected. In contrast to the previous findings with acute lead exposure, chronic lead exposure failed to increase PS exposure in erythrocytes with statistical significance although some trends of enhancement were observed. It implies that a certain adaptation might have happened in body during repeated exposure to lead, resulting in attenuation of PS exposure. With this study, we believe that a valuable information was provided for the study on the toxicological significance and the risk assessment of lead contaminated drinking water.

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Correspondence to Jin-Ho Chung.

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Lee, M., Shin, J., Han, H. et al. In vivo effects of lead on erythrocytes following chronic exposure through drinking water. Arch Pharm Res 29, 1158–1163 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02969308

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Key words

  • Lead
  • In vivo rat model
  • Drinking water
  • Erythrocytes
  • Blood lead level (BLL)