Molecular mechanisms of metalloid transport, toxicity and tolerance


The Journal of Clinical Toxicology (JCT) is Scholarly Open Access journal that deals with the study of xenobiotics and alsostudy toxic effects of agents (drugs) whose purpose is to ameliorate or prevent a disease. The journal addresses both scientific research and clinical advances in clinical toxicology. This free clinical journal provides an open access platform for researcher’s work in clinical toxicology in hospitals, academia, government or industrial sectors.

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Metalloids are elements that possess physical and chemical properties that are intermediate between metals and nonmetals. Six elements are commonly recognized as metalloids; arsenic (As), antimony (Sb), boron (B), germanium (Ge), silicon (Si) and tellurium (Te). Certain other elements, like selenium (Se), are sometimes added to the list. The natural abundance of metalloids in the environment varies greatly. Si is the second most common element in the Earth's crust and constitutes approximately 28% of its mass. In contrast, Te is one of the rarest elements, present only in trace levels. Some metalloids have been in use since ancient times for medicinal purposes. Today, metalloids are mainly used in semiconductor devices, ceramics, solar batteries, and certain polymers. Beside geological sources, mining activities and industrial applications may result in high local concentrations of metalloids, rising concerns for human and environmental health. It is estimated that more than 100 million people worldwide are exposed to As concentrations above the WHO guideline with increased risks of developing cancer and other As-associated diseases. The situation is particularly alarming in Bangladesh and West Bengal (India), where As-contamination of the ground water has been called the largest mass poisoning of a population in history.

Metalloids affect living organisms in various ways. B, Si and Se have either essential or important functions in most organisms including humans. In contrast, As, Sb, Te and Ge are highly toxic and exposure can cause a range of human diseases. Also essential elements like B and Se are toxic when present in high concentrations. As and Sb have a long history of usage as chemotherapeutic agents and are important constituents of currently used pharmacological drugs. The impact of metalloids on the environment, agriculture and human health underscores the importance of elucidating toxicity and tolerance mechanisms.

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