The role of heavy metals in autoimmunity

Rom J Intern Med. 2014;52(3):189-91.


Our understanding of autoimmune diseases has progressed tremendously in the past 20 years. Estimates of the prevalence of autoimmune diseases in the population may be 4% or higher. It is evident that heavy metals present serious risk to human health. Heavy metals are capable of altering the immune response; they have been implicated in influencing autoimmunity. In fact, they are usually inhibitory to immune cell proliferation and activation. This paper reviews the possible mechanisms which may play a role in metal-induced autoimmunity. A better understanding of these interactions remains a priority for the future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmunity / drug effects*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation
  • Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Metals, Heavy / pharmacology*


  • Metals, Heavy