Urinary delta-ALA: A potential biomarker of exposure and neurotoxic effect in rats co-treated with a mixture of lead, arsenic and manganese

Vanda Andrade, M. Luísa Mateus, M. Camila Batoréu, Michael Aschner, A. P.Marreilha dos Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations


Lead (Pb), arsenic (As) and manganese (Mn) are neurotoxic elements that often occur in mixtures for which practically no information is available on biomarkers (BMs) for the evaluation of exposure/effects. Exposures to these metals may increase delta-aminolevulinic acid (delta-ALA), which in itself may potentiate neurotoxicity. The objective of this study was to investigate the utility of urinary delta-ALA (delta-ALA-U) levels as BM of exposure and/or neurotoxic effects induced by this mixture. Five groups of Wistar rats were treated for 8 days with Pb (5. mg/kg), As (60. mg/L), Mn (10. mg/kg), the 3-metal mixture (same doses of the single metals), and control group. Motor activity was evaluated and 24-h urine collected before and after the treatment. 24-hours (h) after the last dose, the rats were sacrificed and the brains removed for analyses. Delta-ALA and metal levels were determined in brain and urine. Co-treated rats showed a significant (p<. 0.05) correlation between increased Pb, As, Mn and delta-ALA levels in the brain and decreased motor activity. Delta-ALA-U concentrations were higher in the mixture-treated group than the sum of the delta-ALA-U levels in each single-treated groups and discriminated (p<. 0.05) between the mixture and untreated rats. Moreover, delta-ALA-U was correlated (p<. 0.05) with brain delta-ALA levels. These results establish that treatments with this metal mixture exacerbate behavioral dysfunction, increasing most prominently brain Pb levels. This study is the first to establish that delta-ALA-U levels represent a sensitive BM of exposure/neurotoxic effect to this metal mixture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-41
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013



  • Biomarkers
  • Delta-aminolevulinic acid
  • Lead, arsenic and manganese
  • Metal mixtures
  • Neurotoxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Toxicology

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