Neurotoxicity of metals

Samuel Caito, Michael Aschner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations


Metals are frequently used in industry and represent a major source of toxin exposure for workers. For this reason governmental agencies regulate the amount of metal exposure permissible for worker safety. While essential metals serve physiologic roles, metals pose significant health risks upon acute and chronic exposure to high levels. The central nervous system is particularly vulnerable to metals. The brain readily accumulates metals, which under physiologic conditions are incorporated into essential metalloproteins required for neuronal health and energy homeostasis. Severe consequences can arise from circumstances of excess essential metals or exposure to toxic nonessential metal. Herein, we discuss sources of occupational metal exposure, metal homeostasis in the human body, susceptibility of the nervous system to metals, detoxification, detection of metals in biologic samples, and chelation therapeutic strategies. The neurologic pathology and physiology following aluminum, arsenic, lead, manganese, mercury, and trimethyltin exposures are highlighted as classic examples of metal-induced neurotoxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-189
Number of pages21
JournalHandbook of clinical neurology / edited by P.J. Vinken and G.W. Bruyn
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Aluminum
  • Arsenic
  • Chelation therapy
  • Lead
  • Manganese
  • Mercury
  • Metalloproteins
  • Metals
  • Oxidative stress
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Trimethyltin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology

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