Physiological and toxicological changes in the skin resulting from the action and interaction of metal ions

Critical Reviews in Toxicology
A B Lansdown


The human environment contains more than 50 metal or metalloid elements. At least 15 are recognized as trace elements, with zinc, calcium, copper, magnesium, and iron having specific roles in skin morphogenesis and function. The present review focuses on the presumed role of metal ions in the skin, their competition for carrier proteins, and membrane receptors. Evidence presented shows that the balance of trace metal ions is critical for normal skin and repair mechanisms following injury. Xenobiotic ions can impair this balance, leading to pathological change. The skin acts as an organ of elimination of excess trace metals and xenobiotic ions from the body, but mechanisms of voidance vary for different metals. Metal ions are an important cause of allergies, and evidence is presented to show that the majority of metals or metal compounds can induce allergic changes. Except for chromium and nickel, which are among the most common human allergens, animal models have provided little information. At least cadmium, thorium, lead, chromium, nickel, beryllium, and arsenic and proven or putative carcinogens in animals or humans on the basis of cytological or epidemiological evidence. However, only arsenic exhibits a clear predilection f...Continue Reading


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