Applications of Chelation Therapy

Applications of Chelation Therapy

Chelation therapy is a medical practice that involves the introduction of a chelating substance to eliminate heavy metals from the body. In chelation therapy, a variety of chelating compounds are employed as medications to treat heavy metal intoxication.

The word chelation comes from the Greek word chelos, which means claw. The word relates to how a metal, like iron, forms a pincer-like bond with a chemical molecule known as a chelating agent.

The first therapeutic application of chelation therapy occurred in 1956 when 19 of 20 lead-poisoned patients with acute angina improved after receiving the treatment. Since then, its efficacy for metal poisoning has been well established, but there has been little support and research into its use to treat other illnesses.

What is Chelation Therapy?

Chelation therapy involves proligands to address problems caused by undesired metal ions from intoxication or disease. To be successful, the proligand must combine and trap the target metal ion, promoting its excretion and removal from the body in complex form without disrupting normal metal biochemistry in vivo. The proligand should be specific for the target ion to avoid removing other biologically essential metals. When targeting a biologically essential metal (e.g., iron or copper), the chelating agent should not compete with natural binding sites to disrupt normal function or health.

The strength of the chemical bonds established between chelators and metal ions in coordination complexes is determined by the elements involved and the stereochemistry. The binding of specific metal ions with chelating ligands depends on several factors, including the chelator’s accessibility to the tissues, the metal’s level of tissue binding, the strength of the metal’s binding to the chelator, and, to some extent, the relative quantities of different ions. A variety of metal ions, such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, and other metals, could bind competitively with the chelator.

Current treatment approaches have different mechanisms of action depending on what happens after the targeted metal ions are complexed: the complexed metal can be removed from the organism, dislocated to tissues where it has no toxic action, or attenuated through complex formation. Chelating drugs have a wide range of applications, ranging from acute poisoning and chronic toxicity caused by industrial, environmental, and even iatrogenic factors to metal toxicity detected in some genetic illnesses.

In addition to the following requirements, the toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics of metals and chelating compounds are essential components of efficient chelation therapy:
i. A strong affinity for the toxic metal.
ii. Low affinity for important metals
iii. Low toxicity
iv. Lipid solubility
v. Excellent absorption from the gastrointestinal system.

Interesting Science Videos

Natural chelation

Metal cations can be dissolved by almost any biological process. As a result, proteins and polysaccharides are effective polydentate ligands for a wide range of metal ions. In addition to these random chelating agents, some are designed to bind certain metals. The porphyrin ring of hemoglobin or chlorophyll, as well as the Fe3 + chelated siderophore released by microbes, are examples of chelating agents. Plants commonly use histidine, malic acid, and phytokeratin as chelating agents to avoid free harmful metal ions. Many microbial species create water-soluble pigments that glow when exposed to ultraviolet light. These pigments function as a chelating agent known as a siderophore.

Applications of Chelation Therapy

  • Chelation is a highly successful method for treating heavy metal toxicity.
    Heavy metals and minerals including lead, mercury, copper, iron, arsenic, aluminum, and calcium are hazardous to the body when present in high concentrations. Chelation reduces the amount of heavy metals and minerals in the body.
  • It is used to control overdose of drugs containing metal ions.
  •  It is used to treat the accumulation of excessive levels of iron in the body caused by recurrent blood transfusions, such as in thalassemia patients who require regular transfusions.
  • It is used to control the accumulation of excessive levels of copper in the body caused by Wilson’s disease, a condition in which the body’s ability to eliminate copper is impaired.
  • EDTA can serve as an antioxidant, protecting against the harmful consequences of chronic inflammation. To that purpose, chelation therapy is utilized to treat osteoarthritis and other inflammatory disorders.

Side effects

One of the main reasons chelation therapy is not commonly used for disorders other than metal toxicity is the considerable risk of adverse consequences.
Side effects, particularly when greater doses are utilized, may include

  • Gastrointestinal diseases
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss.
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Nausea

Sometimes chelation therapy can cause major adverse effects such as kidney damage and dehydration.



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Kabita Sharma

Kabita Sharma, a Central Department of Chemistry graduate, is a young enthusiast interested in exploring nature's intricate chemistry. Her focus areas include organic chemistry, drug design, chemical biology, computational chemistry, and natural products. Her goal is to improve the comprehension of chemistry among a diverse audience through writing.

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