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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(12), 29592-29630; doi:10.3390/ijms161226183

Heavy Metals and Human Health: Mechanistic Insight into Toxicity and Counter Defense System of Antioxidants

1
School of Biotechnology, Yeungnam University, Gyeongsan 712-749, Korea
2
Department of Biosciences, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi 110025, India
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Reinhard Dallinger
Received: 26 October 2015 / Revised: 1 December 2015 / Accepted: 3 December 2015 / Published: 10 December 2015
(This article belongs to the Section Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [604 KB, uploaded 10 December 2015]   |  

Abstract

Heavy metals, which have widespread environmental distribution and originate from natural and anthropogenic sources, are common environmental pollutants. In recent decades, their contamination has increased dramatically because of continuous discharge in sewage and untreated industrial effluents. Because they are non-degradable, they persist in the environment; accordingly, they have received a great deal of attention owing to their potential health and environmental risks. Although the toxic effects of metals depend on the forms and routes of exposure, interruptions of intracellular homeostasis include damage to lipids, proteins, enzymes and DNA via the production of free radicals. Following exposure to heavy metals, their metabolism and subsequent excretion from the body depends on the presence of antioxidants (glutathione, α-tocopherol, ascorbate, etc.) associated with the quenching of free radicals by suspending the activity of enzymes (catalase, peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase). Therefore, this review was written to provide a deep understanding of the mechanisms involved in eliciting their toxicity in order to highlight the necessity for development of strategies to decrease exposure to these metals, as well as to identify substances that contribute significantly to overcome their hazardous effects within the body of living organisms. View Full-Text
Keywords: biomolecules; dietary antioxidants; free radicals; heavy metals biomolecules; dietary antioxidants; free radicals; heavy metals
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Jan, A.T.; Azam, M.; Siddiqui, K.; Ali, A.; Choi, I.; Haq, Q.M.R. Heavy Metals and Human Health: Mechanistic Insight into Toxicity and Counter Defense System of Antioxidants. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16, 29592-29630.

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