EVALUATION OF LIVER FUNCTION MARKERS AMONG WORKERS IN JEWELLERY UNITS
Objectives: Jewellery making unit workers are exposed to potent toxic chemicals and heavy metals during the manufacturing process. Various alloys are used during the manufacturing process of gold in which silver is used in higher concentration. The induction of metallothioneins (MTs) might occur due to the occupational exposure to heavy metals. Hence, the relationship of silver or MTs with liver function markers were investigated.
Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted in the jewellery making units located in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu. A total of 211 participants [exposed (n = 158) and control (n = 53)] were included for the study and their liver function markers namely alanine amino transferase (ALT), aspartate amino transferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), total protein, albumin, total/direct bilirubin and total cholesterol were estimated. Levels of serum silver and MTs were also assessed.
Results: There were significant (p<0.05) increases of serum silver, MTs, ALT, AST, total cholesterol, total/direct bilirubin and significant (p<0.05) decrease of ALP, total protein and albumin in exposed groups compared to control group. Levels of MTs were positively correlated with ALT, AST, total cholesterol, total/direct bilirubin and were negatively correlated with albumin, total protein and ALP.
Conclusion: The significant changes of liver function enzymes were observed due to the prolonged period of exposure to silver. However releases of these markers were in the normal range which might be due to the induction of MTs. The elevated levels of MT in the serum compared to control group pointed out that it might provide a cellular defense strategy against silver.
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