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Biochemical Studies on the Toxicity of Tetraethyl Lead and Other Organo-Lead Compounds
  1. Jill E. Cremer
  1. Toxicology Research Unit, M.R.C. Laboratories, Woodmansterne Road, Carshalton, Surrey


    The actions of purified tetra-, tri-, and di-ethyl lead on rats and rat brain slices and brain brei have been examined. A method based on a reaction with dithizone and capable of estimating tri- and di-ethyl tin in rat tissues has been developed.

    After injection into rats tetraethyl lead is converted into triethyl lead and this is responsible for the toxic effects. Diethyl lead is much less toxic and the effects are different. The utilization of lactate and the oxidation of glucose by brain brei and slices respectively are inhibited by triethyl lead. A similar effect is seen in slices taken from rats poisoned with tetra- or tri-ethyl lead. Rat liver cell microsomes readily convert tetraethyl to triethyl lead and the latter is stable and remains in the animal tissues for several days. The concentration of triethyl lead in the brain is not high in comparison with other tissues but brain tissue appears to be unduly sensitive to its toxic action.

    Neither tetra- nor tri-ethyl lead reacts with B.A.L. or ethylene-diamine-tetra-acetic acid (E.D.T.A.). Diethyl lead reacts with B.A.L. but not with E.D.T.A.

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