Effects of long-term in vitro exposure to aluminum, cadmium or lead on differentiation and cholinergic receptor expression in a human neuroblastoma cell line

Cell Biol Toxicol. 1987 Dec;3(4):431-40. doi: 10.1007/BF00119915.


Neurotoxicity of long-term exposure to lead, aluminum and cadmium has been studied in vitro on the human neuroblastoma cell line IMR32 by measuring cytotoxicity, and the effects on neuronal-specific characteristics such as nitrite outgrowth and expression of cholinergic receptors as parameters of toxicity. Cytotoxicity was highest with cadmium, intermediate with lead and lowest with aluminum exposure. Lead, but not cadmium and aluminum, interfered with neurite growth. The expression of alpha-bungarotoxin binding sites and muscarinic receptors was markedly increased by cadmium and not affected by aluminum exposure. Lead induced only an increase of toxin binding sites. These in vitro modifications are discussed in relation to the possible use of neuronal cell lines for detecting neurotoxic effects of heavy metals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aluminum / toxicity*
  • Binding Sites
  • Cadmium / toxicity*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Lead / toxicity*
  • Lethal Dose 50
  • Neuroblastoma / metabolism*
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / drug effects*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Receptors, Cholinergic
  • Cadmium
  • Lead
  • Aluminum