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Biochemical basis for the toxic effects of triethyl lead
  1. L. Galzigna1,
  2. M. V. Ferraro,
  3. G. Manani,
  4. A. Viola
  1. Institute of Biological Chemistry, University of Padova, 35100 Padova, Italy
  2. Institute of Industrial Medicine, University of Padova, 35100 Padova, Italy
  3. Institute of Anaesthesiology, University of Padova, 35100 Padova, Italy


    Galzigna, L., Ferraro, M. V., Manani, G., and Viola, A. (1973).British Journal of Industrial Medicine,30, 129-133. Biochemical basis for the toxic effects of triethyl lead. The effects of triethyl lead (PbEt3) have been studied in vitro on the cholinesterase activity of rat diaphragm and in vivo on serum cholinesterase in the dog. PbEt3 dramatically increases the duration of succinylcholine-induced myoneural block and pyridine-2-aldoxime methiodide (PAM) is able to counteract both cholinesterase inhibition and the effects on neuromuscular transmission. On the other hand, PbEt3 catalyses the rearrangement of catecholamines to aminochromes in vitro and inhibits catecholamine effect on smooth muscle contraction. The toxicity of PbEt3 and particularly its action on the central nervous system can be explained by a combination of effects which might result from an upset of cholinergic and adrenergic central pathways due to the formation of endogenous psychotogenic complexes.

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    • 1 Present address: Department of Medical Biochemistry, University of Nairobi, PO Box 30197, Nairobi, Kenya.