Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science


Lead has been mined by man for centuries with evidence of its use dating back 6000 years. Chronic exposure to lead can result in encephalopathy, anemia, and nephropathy. Today, cases of lead poisoning are uncommon; however, lead continues to be incorporated into the body through subclinical exposures. These low dosages of lead have been shown to have a deleterious effect on the immune system. Experimental animals exposed to low levels of lead are unable to effectively respond to a number of bacterial and viral challenges. The present study focuses on the relationship between lead and parasitic infection. Parasitemia, mortality, serum antibody levels, and host growth rate were examined using 25 C3HeB/FeJ mice orally administered lead acetate and subsequently infected with Trypanosoma cruzi. Mice were divided into groups of five and given varying concentrations of lead acetate (0 p.p.m., 0.01 p.p.m., 0.1 p.p.m., 1 p.p.m. and 10 p.p.m.) for 30 days whereupon they were infected with 1 x 104 BFTs of the Brazil strain of T. cruzi. Statistical analysis determined that the low dosages of lead did not negatively impact the host's immune system, thereby resulting in increased infection and death. However, further research is needed to determine the effect that higher lead dosage my have on host resistance to disease.


Medical Sciences