Approaching half a century of stable-isotope usage in human metabolic studies has been without documented significant adverse effect. Side-effects with acute D dosing are transitory with no demonstrated evidence of permanent deleterious action. The threshold of D toxicity has been defined in animals and is far in excess of concentrations conceivably used in human studies. The possibility that D may have additional beneficial pharmacological applications cannot be excluded.
For isotopes other than D, evidence of observed toxicity remains to be produced even at dosages far in excess of the range used in metabolic studies. Absence of adverse effect may be attributable to small mass differences and the similar properties of tracer and predominantly abundant isotope.
Absolute determination of stable isotope toxicity in humans is rendered impossible by ethical considerations. Also, the precision of extrapolating toxicity thresholds from animal studies remains unknown. However, should perturbation of the delicate homoeostatic characteristic of living organisms occur with use of stable isotopes, it is almost undoubtedly at some level of administration greatly in excess of those administered currently in biomedical research.