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Environ Toxicol. 2004 Apr;19(2):103-8.

Noninvasive assessment of liver detoxification capacity of children, observed in children from heavily polluted industrial and clean control areas, together with assessments of air pollution and chloro-organic body burden.

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UFZ, Department of Human Exposure Research and Epidemiology, Permoserstrasse 15, D-04318 Leipzig, Germany.


The liver is an important target organ in exposure to foreign substances or their metabolites. Early changes in the metabolic capacity of the liver may be a first sign of the effect of an exposure and an indication of an early (pre)pathological process. For the noninvasive testing of this metabolic capacity, a special diagnostic tool has been developed and demonstrated under real exposure conditions. The main questions investigated were (1) whether the liver detoxification capacity of children is affected by long-term low exposure in a highly polluted area and (2) to what extent redevelopment in once heavily polluted industrial areas contributes to improvement in the health measured in the children from the changed detoxification capacity. Kindergarten children from a heavily polluted industrial area and a control area were observed over a prolonged period during redevelopment of the industrial area. The liver's detoxification capacity was assessed with a stable-isotope-based diagnostic test, the [(15)N]methacetin test. In addition, the region-specific external exposure (indicator components were chlorinated compounds) and internal load were measured. The difference in the children's internal load between the exposed and control groups reflected the differences in exposure (exposed children had an internal load 2.3 times greater than that of the control children). The exposed children showed a 6% lower liver detoxification capacity. A reduction in pollution by about 70% as a result of remediation was reflected in improved liver detoxification capacity, and the difference between the polluted and control areas was no longer significant. Prolonged exposure to low concentrations of xenobiotics can disturb hepatic functioning. The proposed test can be used as a tool to determine the effects of multicomponent exposure and is well suited for bioeffect monitoring.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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