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Reversal of ionoregulatory disruptions in occupational lead exposure by vitamin C

Abstract
In order to investigate the toxic effects of lead during occupational exposure to this metal and the antidotal efficacy of ascorbic acid directed against these toxic effects, various artisans in Abeokuta, Nigeria, who have been shown to be occupationally exposed to lead were supplemented daily with 500 mg ascorbic acid for 2 weeks. Ca2+-Mg2+-ATPase activity in erythrocyte membrane, as well as calcium and magnesium concentrations in plasma, erythrocytes, erythrocyte membrane and urine of the artisans were determined before and after ascorbic acid supplementation. The 2-week ascorbic acid administration resulted in the reversal of lead-induced accumulation of calcium and magnesium in the erythrocyte membranes of the artisans. Ascorbic acid also reversed lead-induced inhibition of erythrocyte membrane Ca2+-Mg2+-ATPase. Urinary excretion of calcium and magnesium was not affected by ascorbic acid. There may be some scope in introducing ascorbic acid as an intervention strategy for the prevention and of lead intoxication, especially in cases where the subjects cannot be removed from the source of lead exposure.