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Arch Environ Health. 1996 Jan-Feb;51(1):26-8.

Reduced IL-6 levels among individuals in Hudson County, New Jersey, an area contaminated with chromium.


Hudson County, New Jersey, was a major center for the processing of chromium ore. After processing, some of the ore residue that contained low concentrations of chromium became distributed in population centers throughout the county. There now exists concern in the county about possible health effects from chromium exposure. Our previous research suggested that immune-function assays would make useful biomarkers for chromate exposure in humans. Blood samples were drawn from 46 individuals who lived and/or worked in Hudson County and from 47 controls. Only one of the immune-associated assays performed on these samples showed any statistically significant differences between the Hudson County and control groups. The mean level of IL-6 produced by pokeweed mitogen-stimulated mononuclear cells isolated from the Hudson County group was 64% of the control value--a highly significant decrease (p<.001). There was also a significant correlation between the proliferative responses of the mononuclear cells to pokeweed mitogen and the levels of IL-6 produced by these cells. No differences were detected in the IL-6 responses that resulted from age, gender, or smoking status. The reliability of the IL-6 assay was found to be 90%. To our knowledge, there have been no reports, until now, that describe reduced production of any cytokine in individuals who are exposed to chromate.

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