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Ann Acad Med Stetin, 2004; 50, Suppl. 1, 9-13

ANNA MACHOY-MOKRZYŃSKA

FLUORINE AS A FACTOR IN PREMATURE AGING

Katedra Farmakologii Pomorskiej Akademii Medycznej w Szczecinie
al. Powstańców Wlkp. 72, 70-111 Szczecin
Kierownik: dr hab. n. med. Marek Droździk

Summary
The use of fluorine compounds in various areas of medicine, particularly in dentistry, as well as in agriculture and industry became very popular in the second half of the 20th century. Fluorine owed this widespread acceptance to observations that its compounds stimulate ossification processes and reduce the prevalence of caries. Unfortunately, growing expectations overshadowed the truth regarding interactions of fluoride on the molecular level. The fact was often ignored that fluoride is toxic, even though laboratory data stood for a careful approach to the benefits of usage. Excessive exposure to fluoride may lead to acute poisoning, hyperemia, cerebral edema, and degeneration of the liver and kidneys. Acute intoxication through the airways produces coughing, choking, and chills, followed by fever and pulmonary edema. Concentrated solutions of fluorine compounds produce difficult to heal necrotic lesions. In spite of these dramatic symptoms, acute intoxications are relatively rare; the more common finding is chronic intoxication attributable to the universal presence of fluorine compounds in the environment. The first noticeable signs of excessive exposure to fluoride in contaminated water, air, and food products include discolorations of the enamel. Dental fluorosis during tooth growth and loss of dentition in adulthood are two consequences of chronic intoxication with fluorine compounds. Abnormalities in mineralization processes affect by and large the osteoarticular system and are associated with changes in the density and structure of the bone presenting as irregular mineralization of the osteoid. Fluorine compounds also act on the organic part of supporting tissues, including collagen and other proteins, and on cells of the connective tissue. These interactions reduce the content of collagen proteins, modify the structure and regularity of collagen fibers, and induce mineralization of collagen. Interactions with cells produce transient activation of osteoblasts, stimulate fibroblasts to produce collagenase, and trigger toxic reactions in osteocytes and chondrocytes of trabecular bone. Growing deformations of the skeleton reduce mobility and result in permanent crippling of the patient. Fluoride increases the mass of non-collagen proteins such as proteoglycans and glucosaminoglycans, accelerating skin aging even though protein biosynthesis is generally suppressed. The final outcome includes progressive vascular lesions and disorders of energy metabolism in muscles. In conclusions, the use of fluoride, particularly by dentists and pediatricians, must be controlled and adapted to individual needs. It is worth remembering that fluoride: – is the cause of disability due to bone deformations and abnormalities in the musculoskeletal system; – reduces the incidence of caries but do not protect against tooth loss; – exerts an adverse effect of metabolic processes in the skin; – accelerates calcification of vessels and thus reduces their elasticity; – inhibits bioenergetic reactions, in particular oxidative phosphorylation, reducing physical activity of muscles. These findings suggest that fluorine may be yet another factor in accelerated aging and revive the dispute started more than two and half thousand years ago whether aging is a physiologic or pathologic process. The understanding of factors modifying the process of aging is the basis for preventive measures aimed at extending life and maintaining full psychosocial activity.

K e y w o r d s: fluorine compounds – fluoride toxicity – premature aging.

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