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J Dent Res. 1998 Jun;77(6):1415-25.

Activation of the immune system and systemic immune-complex deposits in Brown Norway rats with dental amalgam restorations.

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Department of Health and Environment, Linköping University, Sweden.


Dental amalgam restorations are a significant source of mercury exposure in the human population, but their potential to cause systemic health effects is highly disputed. We examined effects on the immune system by giving genetically mercury-susceptible Brown Norway (BN) rats and mercury-resistant Lewis (LE) rats silver amalgam restorations in 4 molars of the upper jaw, causing a body burden similar to that described in human amalgam-bearers (from 250 to 375 mg amalgam/kg body weight). BN rats with amalgam restorations, compared with control rats given composite resinous restorations, developed a rapid activation of the immune system, with a maximum 12-fold increase of the plasma IgE concentration after 3 wks (p < 0.001; Mann-Whitney's test). LE rats receiving amalgam restorations showed no significant increase of plasma IgE (p > 0.05). After 12 wks, BN rats with amalgam restorations showed significantly increased (p < 0.05) titers of immune-complex (IC) deposits in the renal glomeruli and in the vessel walls of internal organs. These rats also showed a significant (p < 0.05), from six- to 130-fold, increase in tissue mercury concentration in the concentration order kidney > spleen > cerebrum occipital lobe > cerebellum > liver > thymus, and the tissue silver concentration was significantly (p < 0.05) increased from three- to 11-fold. Amalgam-implanted BN rats showed a significant (p < 0.05) increase in copper concentration in the kidney and spleen, and in kidney selenium concentration. We conclude that dental amalgam restorations release substantial amounts of their elements, which accumulate in the organs and which, in genetically susceptible rats, give rise to activation of the immune system and systemic IC deposits.

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