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Int Immunopharmacol. 2002 Feb;2(2-3):293-302.

Immunomodulation by metals.

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Laboratory of Clinical and Experimental Endocrinology and Immunology, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany 12201, USA.


Occupational or environmental exposure to metals is believed to affect human health adversely. One mechanism whereby metals can alter health is through modulation of immune homeostasis. Imbalances in immune regulation by metals can lead to inadequate or excessive production of inflammatory cytokines. Alternatively, metals can lead to inappropriate activation of lymphoid subsets involved in acquired immunity to specific antigens. Some resultant pathologies may include chronic inflammatory processes and autoimmune diseases. Metals may change the response repertoire by direct and indirect means by influencing expression of new antigens, new peptides, and/or antigen presentation by modifying the antigen-presenting complex. The differences in metal-induced immune responses between humans and the mechanisms of metal immunomodulation are discussed.

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