BACKGROUND: Experimental and clinical data published recently show that dental amalgam can give rise to undesirable immunological responses in susceptible individuals. In genetically susceptible strains of experimental animals, mercury and silver can induce autoimmune responses. Sera of patients sensitive to mercury were found to have a higher incidence of autoantibodies relative to controls.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to determine possible presence of antinuclear SSB/La autoantibodies after the in vitro stimulation of peripheral blood lymphocytes with HgCl2.
METHODS: Lymphocytes were obtained from patients with autoimmune thyroiditis and increased response to mercury in vitro. Mononuclear cells were cultivated for 6 days with 100 microl HgCl2 solution or with pure medium and the levels of antinuclear autoantibodies SSB/La were assayed by a commercial SSB/La ELISA kit.
RESULTS: Increased production of SSB/La autoantibodies in the media following stimulation of peripheral blood lymphocytes with HgCl2 was found in all cases. Using the Student's paired test, the results were significant on the p=0.05 significance level.
CONCLUSION: Results imply that, in some patients with thyroiditis, mercury from dental amalgam can stimulate the production of antinuclear antibodies. Dental amalgam may be a risk factor in some patients with autoimmune disease.