The effect of occupational chronic lead exposure on the complete blood count and the levels of selected hematopoietic cytokines

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Associations among lead exposure, blood morphology, and cytokines influencing hematopoiesis are still inconclusive. Therefore, the objective of the present study was to demonstrate whether workers chronically exposed to lead demonstrate changes in complete blood count (CBC) parameters associated with altered levels of selected cytokines influencing hematopoiesis.

The study covered 80 male subjects employed in the zinc-lead works in Miasteczko Śląskie. The subjects were divided into two groups: control group (24 healthy administration workers without a history of occupational exposure to lead compounds) and lead exposed group (56 subjects exposed to lead compounds in their work environment).

The values of HTC, MCV, MCH, RDW-CV, PDW, and LMR were significantly lower in the exposed group than in the controls by 3%, 5%, 3%, 4%, 15%, and 47%, respectively. However, the levels of MCHC and MPV were higher in the exposed group than in the controls by 3% and 11%, respectively. Analogically, the values of MXD and MXD% were also significantly higher by 118% and 70%, respectively. The concentration of IL-7 was significantly higher in the exposed group compared to the controls by 143%.

In this study, chronic lead exposure in the occupational setting at levels <50μg/dl does not affect RBC count and hemoglobin level but decreases MCV and hematocrit. Similarly, chronic lead toxicity does not affect WBC count but alters proportions of different types of leukocytes with significant increase of MXD count associated with elevated level of IL-7. Oppositely to a short-term lead exposure, chronic lead exposure elevates MPV and does not alter PLT count.

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