Human exposure to hexacarbon compounds is quite pervasive, including occupational exposures to industrial solvents as well as unintentional and sometimes deliberate exposures to hexacarbon solvents contained in innumerable commercial products. The exact mechanism of hexacarbon neurotoxicity has not yet been identified, but an interference with neuronal axoplasmic flow seems most likely. Metabolism of n-hexane and 2-hexanone to 2,5-hexanedione is a prominent feature which appears to be causally related to the neuropathologic syndrome, and mixed solvent effects have been noted in regard to potentiation of hexacarbon neurotoxicity. Continued effort in investigating the chemically induced peripheral neuropathy is essential not only to define the precise molecular mechanism, but to advance our basic understanding of other polyneuropathies as well. Ultimately, progress in these areas should yield such benefits as early diagnosis of potential neuropathology, better measures for the prevention of neurotoxicities, and more effective modalities of treatment. Indeed, sustained research efforts are imperative in maintaining human health and safety throughout our current era of advancing global technology.
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