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Metal Chelators: Uses, Common Brands, and Safety Info

Metal chelators are medications used to remove toxic metals from the body. They are primarily used to treat heavy metal poisoning and genetic disorders with abnormal metal accumulation. Common brands include deferoxamine, succimer, and penicillamine. Metal chelators should be used under medical supervision and potential side effects include gastrointestinal disturbances and allergic reactions. These medications are crucial for eliminating toxic metals and improving overall health.


Metal chelators are a class of medications that work by binding to and removing toxic metals from the body. These drugs are primarily used in the treatment of heavy metal poisoning and certain genetic disorders characterized by abnormal metal accumulation. By forming stable complexes with metal ions, metal chelators facilitate their elimination from the body through urinary or fecal excretion.


Metal chelators are most commonly used in the treatment of heavy metal poisoning, which can occur due to exposure to substances such as lead, mercury, arsenic, or copper. These toxic metals can enter the body through various routes, including ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact. Heavy metal poisoning can lead to severe health complications, affecting multiple organs and systems, including the nervous, renal, and cardiovascular systems. Additionally, metal chelators are effective in the treatment of certain genetic disorders, including Wilson's disease and hemochromatosis. In Wilson's disease, copper accumulates in the body, leading to liver and neurological damage. Metal chelators can bind to copper and help eliminate excess copper from the body. Hemochromatosis, on the other hand, involves excessive iron absorption, resulting in iron build-up in various organs. Metal chelators can aid in removing the excess iron.

Common Brands

Several metal chelators exist in the market, each with its own unique characteristics and indications. Some of the commonly used metal chelators include: 1. Deferoxamine (Desferal): Used primarily for the treatment of iron overload disorders, such as thalassemia and hemochromatosis. 2. Succimer (Chemet): Effective in the treatment of lead poisoning in children. 3. Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA, Chemetox): Used for the treatment of lead poisoning and mercury toxicity in both adults and children. 4. Penicillamine (Cuprimine, Depen): Primarily used in Wilson's disease to remove excess copper from the body. It is important to note that the choice of metal chelator and brand depends on the specific condition being treated. Dosages and administration regimens may also vary between different metal chelators.


Metal chelators are typically well-tolerated when used under medical supervision. However, like any medication, they can have potential side effects. Common side effects may include gastrointestinal disturbances, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Allergic reactions, rash, or itching may also occur in some individuals. It is crucial to follow the prescribed dosage and duration of treatment as prescribed by the healthcare professional. Metal chelators should only be used under medical supervision, as they require careful monitoring of metal levels in the blood and urine to avoid complications such as excessive metal removal or re-toxicity. Before initiating metal chelator therapy, it is advisable to inform the healthcare provider about any underlying medical conditions, ongoing medications, or allergies to ensure the safest and most effective treatment. Overall, metal chelators play a vital role in managing heavy metal poisoning and certain genetic disorders characterized by abnormal metal accumulation. They aid in the safe elimination of toxic metals from the body, improving both short-term and long-term health outcomes for affected individuals.