Using normal adult human whole blood hemolysates this study determined, in a dose-response fashion, the in vitro effects of Na+, Mg2+, Al3+, Mn2+, Cu2+, Ag+, Zn2+, Cd2+, Hg2+, Ga3+, In3+, Sn2+, Sn4+, and Pb2+ on normal erythrocytic ALAD. The effects of these 14 metal ions on erythrocytic ALAD 50% inhibited by Pb2+ were also determined as was the ability of a maximum stimulatory concentration of Zn2+ to prevent or reverse the effects of these metal ions on erythrocytic ALAD. The effects of these metal ions were then classified in terms of their oxidation state, characteristic coordination number, coordination geometry, and hard and soft Lewis acid characteristics in order to determine the physical and chemical properties associated with the ability of a metal ion to activate or inhibit erythrocytic ALAD and whether these properties are unique to a single metal ion. Preincubation studies established Zn2+ to be the only metal ion to both activate erythrocytic ALAD and to prevent or reverse the Pb2+-induced inhibition of erythrocytic ALAD in vitro even after prolonged contact with the enzyme. Therefore future investigations of the use of nontoxic salts of Zn2+ as a prophylactic agent or therapeutic adjunct in the prevention or treatment of lead poisoning with its possibly toxic accumulation of ALA are proposed.
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