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FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2003 Aug 18;38(1):65-70.

Various cells of the immune system and intestine differ in their capacity to reduce hexavalent chromium.

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Biomembrane Division, Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, Mahatma Gandhi Marg, 226001 Lucknow, India.


The cells of the immune system form a strong line of defence against foreign substances. The present study was undertaken to investigate the capacity of different cells of Wistar rats to reduce potentially carcinogenic hexavalent chromium (Cr-VI) into less toxic trivalent chromium in vitro. 5 x 10(6) cells were incubated with 10 or 25 microg ml(-1) of Cr (VI) in the form of K2Cr2O7 at 37 degrees C in the presence of 5% CO2 in air. At various time periods the remaining amount of Cr (VI) was measured and the percentage of Cr (VI) reduced was calculated. Among the single cell suspensions from the splenic cells a peak reduction of 55% was observed with the total spleen cells, 40% with the B-lymphocyte-enriched subpopulation, 10% with T-lymphocytes and 24% with the macrophages. The reduction by splenic and peritoneal macrophages was similar. Total thymocytes reduced 54% of the Cr (VI). Since the most common route of entry of chromium is through drinking water and food, intestinal cells were also investigated. Among the intestinal cells the maximum reduction of 100% (of 10 microg ml(-1)) was observed with the upper villus cells and 72% with the middle villus cells while reduction was the least (4%) with the crypt cells. The reduction in the intestinal loop in situ was 100%. The time taken by each cell type for the peak reduction to Cr (VI) was markedly different. The findings thus show that the capacity of different cells in the body differs vastly in their capacity and time taken to reduce hexavalent chromium. The most efficient handling of Cr (VI) by the intestine, due to the presence of a variety of cells and bacteria, protects the body from its adverse effects.

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