Alpha tocopherol protects against immunosuppressive and immunotoxic effects of lead

Maria J. Fernandez-Cabezudo, Mohammed Y. Hasan, Nada Mustafa, Rami T. El-Sharkawy, Mohamed A. Fahim, Basel K. Al-Ramadi

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Chronic exposure to lead (Pb) is associated with multi-organ toxicity. The precise mechanism(s) involved, however, remains incompletely defined. The present study was undertaken to analyze the effect of Pb on the immune system and determine the ability of α tocopherol (AT) to reverse Pb-induced immunotoxicity. Groups of TO Mice (6 per group) were treated ip for 2 weeks with saline alone, Pb acetate alone, Pb plus AT, or with AT alone. Spleens were then analyzed for (i) cellular composition by flow cytometry, (ii) cellular response to B and T cell mitogens and (iii) production of nitric oxide (NO). Pb treatment resulted in a significant state of splenomegaly associated mainly with an influx of CD11b+ myeloid cells. Surprisingly, however, these cells exhibited no upregulation in expression of activation markers and did not produce NO. The lymphocyte mitogenic responses were inhibited by ≥70% in Pb-treated group. Concurrent treatment with Pb and AT resulted in almost a complete reversal of Pb-induced splenic cellular influx. Despite this, however, mitogenic responses in Pb + AT treated group were approximately 50% of those observed in normal (saline-treated) controls. We conclude that (1) chronic treatment with Pb acetate induces a state of splenomegaly and decreased proliferation in response to mitogenic stimuli and (2) co-treatment with AT largely reversed the cellular influx but this was associated with only a partial improvement of the mitogenic responses. These results highlight the role of AT as a potentially effective antioxidant in the immune system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-445
Number of pages9
JournalFree Radical Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2003


  • Free radical
  • Immunotoxicity
  • Lead
  • Macrophages
  • Nitric oxide
  • α Tocopherol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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