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Clin Hemorheol Microcirc. 2014;56(3):187-95. doi: 10.3233/CH-131678.

The effect of lead-induced oxidative stress on blood viscosity and rheological properties of erythrocytes in lead exposed humans.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Medical University of Silesia in Katowice, Zabrze, Poland.
  • 2Department of Biophysics, Medical University of Silesia in Katowice, Zabrze, Poland.


Lead-induced oxidative stress has been identified as the essential factor in lead poisoning pathogenesis. Therefore, the present study examined the association between occupational lead exposure and blood rheological parameters with respect to malondialdehyde (a lipid peroxidation product), lipofuscin, and glutathione concentrations in erythrocytes. The examined group included 283 healthy male employees of lead-zinc works. In brief, 129 workers were classified as the low-exposure group, while the high-exposure group was composed of 154 workers. The mean blood levels of lead and zinc-protoporphyrin and the mean urine concentrations of delta-aminolevulinic acid were used as exposure markers. The control group consisted of 73 healthy male administrative workers. Whole blood viscosity was elevated in both exposure subgroups compared with the control group. Erythrocyte aggregability increased significantly; although the increase was greater in the low exposure group. Erythrocyte deformability decreased in both subgroups. The levels of malondialdehyde and lipofuscin were significantly elevated, whereas the glutathione content decreased. In conclusion, occupational exposure to lead may induce oxidative stress in erythrocytes. This stress elevates whole blood viscosity and disturbs erythrocyte aggregability and deformability. There is a dose-effect relationship between lead levels and blood rheological parameters.


LORCA; blood viscosity; erythrocyte aggregation; erythrocyte deformability; lead poisoning; oxidative stress

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