Serum Neuron-Specific Enolase, Biogenic Amino-Acids and Neurobehavioral Function in Lead-Exposed Workers from Lead-Acid Battery Manufacturing Process

K Ravibabu, T Barman, HR Rajmohan


Background: The interaction between serum neuron-specific enolase (NSE), biogenic amino-acids and neurobehavioral function with blood lead levels in workers exposed to lead form lead-acid battery manufacturing process was not studied.

Objective: To evaluate serum NSE and biogenic amino-acids (dopamine and serotonin) levels, and neurobehavioral performance among workers exposed to lead from lead-acid storage battery plant, and its relation with blood lead levels (BLLs).

Methods: In a cross-sectional study, we performed biochemical and neurobehavioral function tests on 146 workers exposed to lead from lead-acid battery manufacturing process. BLLs were assessed by an atomic absorption spectrophotometer. Serum NSE, dopamine and serotonin were measured by ELISA. Neurobehavioral functions were assessed by CDC-recommended tests—simple reaction time (SRT), symbol digit substitution test (SDST), and serial digit learning test (SDLT).

Results: There was a significant correlation (r 0.199, p<0.05) between SDST and BLL. SDLT and SRT had also a significant positive correlation (r 0.238, p<0.01). NSE had a negative correlation (r –0.194, p<0.05) with serotonin level. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed that both SRT and SDST had positive significant associations with BLL. SRT also had a positive significant association with age.

Conclusion: Serum NSE cannot be used as a marker for BLL. The only domain of neurobehavioral function tests that is affected by increased BLL in workers of lead-acid battery manufacturing process is that of the “attention and perception” (SDST).


Lead; Enolase, Neuron-Specific; Dopamine; Serotonin; Neurobehavioral manifestations; Biogenic amines; Amino acids; Healthy worker effect

doi: 10.15171/ijoem.2015.436

 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License