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Neurotransmitters and Behavioral Alterations Induced by Nickel Exposure

[ Vol. 20 , Issue. 7 ]


María I. Martínez-Martínez , Isabel Muñoz-Fambuena and Omar Cauli *   Pages 985 - 991 ( 7 )


Background: Nickel ions (Ni2+) are a heavy metal with wide industrial uses. Environmental and occupational exposures to Ni are potential risk factors for brain dysfunction and behavioral and neurological symptoms in humans.

Methods: We reviewed the current evidence about neurochemical and behavioral alterations associated with Ni exposure in laboratory animals and humans.

Results: Ni2+ exposure can alter (both inhibition and stimulation) dopamine release and inhibit glutamate NMDA receptors. Few reports claim an effect of Ni2+ at the level of GBA and serotonin neurotransmission. At behavioral levels, exposure to Ni2+ in rodents alters motor activity, learning and memory as well as anxiety and depressive-like symptoms. However, no analysis of the dose-dependent relationship has been carried out regarding these effects and the levels of the Ni2+ in the brain, in blood or urine.

Conclusion: Further research is needed to correlate the concentration of Ni2+ in biological fluids with specific symptoms/deficits. Future studies addressing the impact of Ni2+ under environmental or occupational exposure should consider the administration protocols to find Ni2+ levels similar in the general population or occupationally exposed workers.


Nickel, brain, behaviour, neurotransmitter, dopamine, glutamate, GABA.


Department of Nursing, University of Valencia, 46010 Valencia, Environmental Sciences, Alauda Company, 46009 Valencia, Department of Nursing, University of Valencia, 46010 Valencia

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