Fluoride Action Network



  • NaF enhances generation of ROS and RNS in human RBC.
  • It oxidizes hemoglobin to give methemoglobin and oxyferryl hemoglobin.
  • NaF impairs the antioxidant power of cells.
  • It inhibits the pathways of glucose metabolism.
  • NaF inhibits transmembrane electron transport system.

Fluoride is a widespread environmental pollutant that at high levels exerts numerous deleterious effects on human health. The toxic effects of fluoride are a matter of serious concern since many countries have regions of endemic fluorosis. The main source of fluoride exposure for humans is intake of contaminated groundwater. Fluoride is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and enters the circulating blood, where the abundant red blood cells (RBC) are an early and major target of fluoride toxicity. Chronic fluoride exposure generates free radicals, reactive species which leads to redox imbalance, cytotoxicity and hematological damage. This study aimed to determine the effect of sodium fluoride (NaF) on human RBC under in vitro conditions. Isolated RBC were incubated with different concentrations of NaF (10–500 µM) for 8 h at 37 °C. Several biochemical parameters were determined in hemolysates or whole cells. Treatment of RBC with NaF enhanced the generation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. This increased the oxidation of hemoglobin to yield methemoglobin and oxoferrylhemoglobin, which are inactive in oxygen transport. NaF treatment increased the degradation of heme causing release of free iron from its porphyrin ring. Cellular antioxidant power was significantly decreased in NaF-treated RBC, lowering the metal reducing and free radical quenching ability of cells. The two pathways of glucose metabolism in RBC i.e. glycolysis and hexose monophosphate shunt, were inhibited. NaF also inhibited the plasma membrane redox system, and its associated ascorbate free radical reductase, to disrupt transmembrane electron transport. These results suggest that fluoride generates reactive species that cause extensive oxidative modifications in human RBC.


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