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J Alzheimers Dis. 2003 Jun;5(3):189-95.

Apolipoprotein E genotyping as a potential biomarker for mercury neurotoxicity.

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  • 1Bay of Plenty Environmental Health Clinic, Tauranga, New Zealand. godfrey@wave.co.nz

Abstract

Apolipoprotein-E (apo-E) genotyping has been investigated as an indicator of susceptibility to heavy metal (i.e., lead) neurotoxicity. Moreover, the apo-E epsilon (epsilon)4 allele is a major risk factor for neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). A theoretical biochemical basis for this risk factor is discussed herein, supported by data from 400 patients with presumptive mercury-related neuro-psychiatric symptoms and in whom apo-E determinations were made. A statistically relevant shift toward the at-risk apo-E epsilon4 groups was found in the patients p<0.001). The patients possessed a mean of 13.7 dental amalgam fillings and 31.5 amalgam surfaces. This far exceeds the number capable of producing the maximum identified tolerable daily intake of mercury from amalgam. The clinical diagnosis and proof of chronic low-level mercury toxicity has been difficult due to the non-specific nature of the symptoms and signs. Dental amalgam is the greatest source of mercury in the general population and brain, blood and urine mercury levels increase correspondingly with the number of amalgams and amalgam surfaces in the mouth. Confirmation of an elevated body burden of mercury can be made by measuring urinary mercury, after provocation with 2,3,-dimercapto-propane sulfonate (DMPS) and this was measured in 150 patients. Apo-E genotyping warrants investigation as a clinically useful biomarker for those at increased risk of neuropathology, including AD, when subjected to long-term mercury exposures. Additionally, when clinical findings suggest adverse effects of chronic mercury exposure, a DMPS urine mercury challenge appears to be a simple, inexpensive procedure that provides objective confirmatory evidence. An opportunity could now exist for primary health practitioners to help identify those at greater risk and possibly forestall subsequent neurological deterioration.

PMID:
12897404
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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