Metal ions affecting the neurological system

Met Ions Life Sci. 2011:8:247-62.


Several individual metals including aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, manganese, and mercury were demonstrated to affect the neurological system. Metals are ubiquitous in the environment. Environmental and occupational exposure to one metal is likely to be accompanied by exposure to other metals, as well. It is, therefore, expected that interactions or "joint toxic actions" may occur in populations exposed to mixtures of metals or to mixtures of metals with other chemicals. Some metals seem to have a protective role against neurotoxicity of other metals, yet other interactions may result in increased neurotoxicity. For example, zinc and copper provided a protective role in cases of lead-induced neurotoxicity. In contrast, arsenic and lead co-exposure resulted in synergistic effects. Similarly, information is available in the current literature on interactions of metals with some organic chemicals such as ethanol, polychlorinated biphenyls, and pesticides. In depth understanding of the toxicity and the mechanism of action (including toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics) of individual chemicals is important for predicting the outcomes of interactions in mixtures. Therefore, plausible mechanisms of action are also described.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Ions / toxicity
  • Metals / toxicity*
  • Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Nervous System / pathology
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / etiology*


  • Ions
  • Metals