Both cadmium and lead have pulmonary toxicity: cadmium can cause lung cancer, fibrosis and emphysema; lead can induce a moderate interstitial pulmonary fibrosis. Both metals give rise to depletion of glutathione and depletion of the protein-bound sulfhydryl groups, and lead to the production of reactive oxygen species. In the primary culture of type II pneumocytes, which is one of the most important cell groups from the aspect of glutathione metabolism and thus redox balance, the effect of cadmium chloride and lead nitrate upon the enzymes of the glutathione cycle, upon superoxide dismutase and upon the structure of type II pneumocytes was examined. Depending on the concentration, cadmium inhibited each of these parameters, whereas lead nitrate significantly increased the activity of glutathione reductase while inhibiting other parameters. Both metals induced damage of the membranes of type II cells, depending on the concentration, although cadmium caused significantly more damage than lead. The data obtained suggest that both substances cause an imbalance in the redox cycle and diversely affect the function and membrane structure of type II pneumocytes.
Copyright 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.