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Research Article

Lead poisoning: association with hemolytic anemia, basophilic stippling, erythrocyte pyrimidine 5'-nucleotidase deficiency, and intraerythrocytic accumulation of pyrimidines.

W N Valentine, D E Paglia, K Fink and G Madokoro

Published October 1976

Lead intoxication is accompanied by an acquired deficiency of erythrocyte pryimidine-specific, 5'-nucleotidase. Genetically determined deficiency of this enzyme is associated with chronic hemolysis, marked basophilic stippling of erythrocytes on stained blood films, and unique intraerythrocytic accumulations of pyrimidine-containing nucleotides. The present report documents that lead-induced deficiency when sufficiently severe gives rise to findings similar to the hereditary disorder. Whereas pyrimidine-containing nucleotides are virutally absent in the erythrocytes of normal and reticulocyte-rich blood, 12% of erythrocyte nucloetides in the blood of a patient with lead intoxication contained cytidine. Nucleotidase activity was about 25% that in normal erythrocytes and 15% or less of that expected in comparable reticulocyte-rich blood. The distribution of nucleotidase activity in patient erythrocytes is unknown, and much more severe deficiency could have been present in subsets of the cell populations analyzed. The findings indicate that the hemolytic anemia and increased basophilic stippling characteristic of certain cases of lead intoxication may share a common etiology with essentially identical features of the genetically determined disorder.

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