ISSN 1895-4316
Wednesday, 16.01.2019
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PHiE 2018, 99(4)

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Probl Hig Epidemiol 2018, 99(4): 310-317pl

Mercury´s effect on the immune system

Piotr Sura 1/, Paulina Kowalczyk 2/, Dominika Biała 2/, Katarzyna Marcińska 2/, Dorota Woźniak 2/, Barbara Macura 1/, Sylwia Motyl 3/, Marian Szczepanik 2/

1/ Zakład Biologii Rozwoju Człowieka, Collegium Medicum, Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie
2/ Katedra Biologii Medycznej, Collegium Medicum, Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie
3/ Katedra Ortodoncji, Wydział Lekarski, Collegium Medicum, Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie

Mercury is highly toxic to human health and particularly dangerous for embryonic development. It occurs in various forms: inorganic (e.g. mercuric chloride) and organic (e.g. methyl- and ethyl mercury). All these forms have different degrees of toxicity and implications for health. This study reviews current knowledge concerning the effects of mercury exposure on the immune system in animals and humans. Much of the data suggests that mercury can have both immunosuppressant and immunostimulatory effects on the immune system. Animal studies have shown that mercury can impair the function of T lymphocytes and cytokine production, disrupt the function of phagocytic cells, and interfere with the production of antibodies. Reports suggest that mercury exposure can also induce the development of several autoimmune disorders in genetically susceptible animal strains.

Key words:  immune system, mercury, immunosuppression, immunostimulation, autoimmunity