Are faster or slower large myelinated nerve fibers more sensitive to chronic lead exposure? A study of the distribution of conduction velocities

Environ Res. 1993 Aug;62(2):333-8. doi: 10.1006/enrs.1993.1118.

Abstract

To determine which of the faster and slower large myelinated nerve fibers (alpha fiber group) are more sensitive to chronic lead exposure, the distribution of nerve conduction velocities (DCV) as well as conventional sensory nerve conduction velocity (SCV) were measured once a month for 20 and 11 months in two male lead workers with blood lead concentrations of 70 to 121 and of 63 to 85 micrograms/dl, respectively. Differences in the frequency beyond the "normal" ranges between conduction velocities of faster nerve fibers (V80, V90, or SCV) and those of slower fibers (V10 or V20) were analyzed by the McNemar test. In the two lead workers, the values below the lower normal limits for the V80 and V90 velocities were more frequent than those for the V10 and V20 velocities; similarly, lower values for the SCV were more frequent than those for the V10 and V20 velocities (P < 0.05). It was suggested that faster nerve fibers are more sensitive to chronic lead exposure than slower nerve fibers. These findings agree with our published data on the effects of local vibration, thallium, n-hexane, styrene, mixed organic solvents, alcohol dependency, and diabetes mellitus.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lead / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myelin Sheath / drug effects
  • Myelin Sheath / physiology*
  • Neural Conduction / drug effects
  • Neural Conduction / physiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Peripheral Nerves / drug effects
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiology*

Substances

  • Lead