Associations of lead exposure and dose measures with erythrocyte protein kinase C activity in 212 current Korean lead workers

Kyu Yoon Hwang, Brian S Schwartz, Byung Kook Lee, Paul Timothy Strickland, Andy C. Todd, Joseph Bressler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Lead can replace calcium in enzyme assays that measure protein kinase C activity and lead activates protein kinase C in human erythrocytes after exposure to lead in vitro. To examine the relevance of these observations to lead exposure in humans, we studied the associations of lead found in blood or tibia with activation of protein kinase C in erythrocytes isolated from workers in the lead industry. We examined erythrocytes among 212 lead workers, with a mean (±SD) age of 39.1 (10.0) years and exposure duration of 8.1 (6.5) years and measured protein kinase C activation by an in vitro back-phosphorylation assay. After adjustment for potential confounding factors (age and sex), tibia lead and exposure duration were significantly associated with erythrocyte protein kinase C activation (both p values <0.05). No associations were observed between protein kinase C activation and blood-lead or zinc-protoporphyrin levels. These findings suggest that human exposure to lead results in activation of erythrocyte protein kinase C, which may be directly relevant to the neurotoxicity of lead.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-288
Number of pages9
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001



  • Back-phosphorylation
  • Blood lead
  • Protein kinase C
  • Tibia lead

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology

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