Authors: Onunkwor B, Dosumu O, Odukoya OO, Arowolo T, Ademuyiwa O.
Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2004 Jul;17(3):169-76.
In order to study the ameliorative effects of ascorbic acid in chronic lead poisoning, petrol station attendants and auto-mechanics in Abeokuta, Nigeria, who have been shown to be occupationally exposed to lead and university students (serving as control), were supplemented daily with 500 mg ascorbic acid for 2 weeks. Blood and urine samples were collected from the subjects before and after ascorbic acid regimen and analysed for lead and biochemical effects associated with lead toxicity. The 2-week ascorbic acid supplementation resulted in a significant (P < 0.05) reduction in blood lead in the occupationally exposed subjects. The reduction in blood lead amounted to 57% in male petrol station attendants, 50% in female petrol station attendants and 44% in the auto-mechanics. Urinary excretion of lead increased remarkably in the occupationally exposed subjects (P < 0.05). The biochemical effects associated with the toxic effects of lead also responded positively to the ascorbic acid regimen. Plasma and urine aminolevulinic acid (ALA) were reduced significantly (P < 0.05) by as much as 55% and 57% respectively. Plasma calcium also increased significantly (P < 0.05) in the subjects. Decreased levels of reduced glutathione (GSH) and hemoglobin observed in the occupationally exposed subjects were reversed by ascorbic acid. Glutathione-S-transferase (GST) and catalase (CAT) activities were not affected. Our findings indicate that ascorbic acid may be useful as an economical and convenient prophylactic agent for lead poisoning.
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