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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1985 May 16;128(3):1145-51.

Low levels of mercury inhibit the respiratory burst in human polymorphonuclear leukocytes.


The objective of this investigation was to examine the effects of low levels of Hg(II) on the respiratory burst of PMNs by monitoring O2 consumption, superoxide radical formation, and chemiluminescence. Hg(II) at concentrations of 10-100 ng/ml profoundly inhibited zymosan-stimulated human cells. This inhibition was immediate in onset and occurred with minimal loss of cell viability. Effects of Hg(II) on the PMN respiratory burst were compared with those of Sn, Pb, Se, Au, Ag and Cu. Only in the case of Ag and Cu did the inhibitory effects approach those of Hg. The results indicate that Hg(II) may serve as a specific inhibitor of components of the respiratory burst.

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