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Dental alloys affect cellular energy production

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA. Although nickel is known to be carcinogenic in humans it is still widely used in certain dental alloys. Researchers at the University of Alabama now report that other components of dental alloys (beryllium, chromium, and molybdenum) as well as nickel affect the very basic function of human cells - the production of energy (ATP). ATP is produced in the mitochondria of cells and involves highly oxidative processes. It is becoming increasingly clear that abnormalities in the mitochondrial processes are important causes of human disease. Some researchers believe that a slowing down of these processes actually heralds the very first stage in the proliferation of abnormal cells and cancer.

The Alabama researchers exposed cultures of human gingival (gum) cells to solutions of nickel, beryllium, chromium (tri- and hexavalent) and molybdenum (hexavalent) for periods of 24 and 72 hours. They then measured the energy production and oxygen consumption of the cells' mitochondria in the various solutions. Cells in contact with nickel or hexavalent chromium were most affected and showed decreased ATP (energy) production as well as a decrease in oxygen consumption. The effects of beryllium, molybdenum, and trivalent chromium were similar, but less pronounced. The researchers conclude that their findings may be the first indication that some components of common dental alloys may be detrimental to human health. They urge further research to establish possible synergisms between mixtures of these different metals on mitochondrial energy production. [54 references]
Messer, R.L.W., et al. An investigation of fibroblast mitochondria enzyme activity and respiration in response to metallic ions released from dental alloys. J Biomed Mater Res, Vol. 50, 2000, pp. 598-604

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