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Pure Appl. Chem., 2008, Vol. 80, No. 6, pp. 1349-1364


Lymphocyte subpopulations in human exposure to metals (IUPAC Technical Report)

Michael Schwenk1, Reinhild Klein2 and Douglas M. Templeton3

1 In den Kreuzäckern 16, 72072 Tübingen, Germany
2 Medizinische Universitätsklinik Tübingen, Abt. II, Otfried-Müller-Str. 10, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
3 Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, 1 King's College Circle, Toronto, M5S 1A8, Canada

Abstract: Numerous species of metal ions cause immunosensitization in humans. Possible approaches to determine those occupational and environmental exposures to metals that result in immunological changes include lymphocyte transformation assay, cytokine profiling, and measurement of lymphocyte subpopulations. In two previous papers, we considered lymphocyte transformation assay [1] and cytokine profiling [2]. Here we review the effects of exposures to metals on lymphocyte subpopulations. Specific consideration is given to beryllium, chromium, cobalt, nickel, palladium and platinum, cadmium, gold, mercury, and lead. Analysis of the scientific literature shows that immunosensitizing metals may have influences on the lymphocyte subset composition, but only in a few instances does exposure to metals cause reproducible shifts of lymphocyte subpopulations. If lymphocyte subpopulations are analyzed, each diagnostic step, including indication, sample handling, analytic procedure, and data interpretation, should adhere to good quality assurance and quality control.