Prevalence of kidney dysfunction in humans - Relationship to cadmium dose, metallothionein, immunological and metabolic factors

Gunnar F. Nordberg, Taiyi Jin, Xunwei Wu, Jian Lu, Liang Chen, Lijian Lei, Feng Hong, Monica Nordberg

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Long term cadmium (Cd) exposure in occupational and general environments may give rise to kidney dysfunction. This effect is usually considered to be the critical effect, i. e. the effect that occurs at relatively low level of exposure. The present review focused on studies of the prevalence of cadmium-related kidney dysfunction among population groups residing in cadmium contaminated areas in China. Dose-response relationships were shown between UCd and the prevalence of increased levels of biomarkers in urine of renal tubular dysfunction such as urinary beta-2-microglobulin or N-acetyl-beta-d-glucosaminidase - NAG or urinary albumin, a biomarker of glomerular kidney dysfunction. Factors that influence these dose-response relationships include: 1) Metallothionein mRNA levels in peripheral blood lymphocytes, used as a biomarker of the ability of each person, to synthesize metallothionein (a protein known to provide intracellular protection against cadmium toxicity). 2) The occurrence of increased levels in blood plasma of autoantibodies against metallothionein. 3) Concomitant changes in glucose metabolism i e Type II diabetes. 4) Concomitant exposure to other nephrotoxic agents such as inorganic arsenic. Increased susceptibility in diabetics has been shown also in population groups in Europe. In persons with type II diabetes and increased levels of autoantibodies against metallothionein in blood plasma or in persons with concomitant exposure to environmental inorganic arsenic, indications of Cd-related kidney dysfunction was observed at UCd levels around 1 μg/g creatinine, levels found among "unexposed" population groups in many countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1282-1285
Number of pages4
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Cadmium
  • Diabetes
  • Human health
  • Kidney disease
  • Metallothionein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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