The effect of blood lead on erythrocyte membrane proteins was studied in 28 workers from a scrap lead refining factory and in 18 controls working in railway construction. Sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) of the polypeptides in the erythrocyte membrane showed that bands 3 and 4.1 had significantly decreased while bands 2.3, 6, and 7 had significantly increased in the lead workers compared with the controls. For the lead workers, the correlation coefficients between blood lead and bands 2.3 and 3 were r = 0.545 (p less than 0.01) and r = -0.51 (p less than 0.01) respectively. These results suggest that the decrease in erythrocyte membrane permeability results from a decrease in the membrane transfer protein responsible for band 3.
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