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1.  Markers of early renal changes induced by industrial pollutants. III. Application to workers exposed to cadmium. 
Cadmium (Cd) was the third heavy metal investigated in the European collaborative research project on the development and validation of new markers of nephrotoxicity. Fifty workers exposed to Cd and 50 control workers were examined. After application of selection criteria 37 workers (mean age 43) exposed to Cd for an average of 11.3 years; and 43 age matched referents were retained for final analysis. The average concentrations of Cd in blood (Cd-B) and urine (Cd-U) of exposed workers were 5.5 micrograms Cd/l and 5.4 micrograms Cd/g creatinine respectively. By contrast with lead and mercury, Cd had a broad spectrum of effects on the kidney, producing significant alterations in amounts of almost all potential indicators of nephrotoxicity that were measured in urine--namely, low and high molecular weight proteins, kidney derived antigens or enzymes, prostanoids, and various other biochemical indices such as glycosaminoglycans and sialic acid. An increase in beta 2-microglobulin and a decrease of sialic acid concentration were found in serum. Dose-effect/response relations could be established between most of these markers and Cd-U or Cd-B. The thresholds of Cd-U associated with a significantly higher probability of change in these indicators were estimated by logistic regression analysis. Three main groups of thresholds could be identified: one around 2 micrograms Cd/g creatinine mainly associated with biochemical alterations, a second around 4 micrograms Cd/g creatinine for high molecular weight proteins and some tubular antigens or enzymes, and a third one around 10 micrograms Cd/g creatinine for low molecular weight proteins and other indicators. The recent recommendation by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) of 5 micrograms Cd/g creatinine in urine as the biological exposure limit for occupational exposure to Cd appears thus justified, although for most of the effects occurring around this threshold the link with the subsequent development of overt Cd nephropathy is not established. In that respect, the very early interference with production of some prostanoids (threshold 2 micrograms Cd/g creatinine) deserves further investigation; although this effect might contribute to protect the filtration capacity of the kidneys, it might also play a part in the toxicity of Cd on bone.
PMCID: PMC1061232  PMID: 8431389
2.  Markers of early renal changes induced by industrial pollutants. II. Application to workers exposed to lead. 
The present study has been carried out in the framework of a collaborative research project on the development of new markers of nephrotoxicity. A battery of more than 20 potential indicators of renal changes has been applied to 50 workers exposed to lead (Pb) and 50 control subjects. After application of selection criteria 41 exposed and 41 control workers were eventually retained for the final statistical analysis. The average blood Pb concentration of exposed workers was 480 micrograms/l and their mean duration of exposure was 14 years. The battery of tests included parameters capable of detecting functional deficits (for example, urinary proteins of low or high molecular weight), biochemical alterations (for example, urinary eicosanoids, glycosaminoglycans, sialic acid) or cell damage (for example, urinary tubular antigens or enzymes) at different sites of the nephron or the kidney. The most outstanding effect found in workers exposed to Pb was an interference with the renal synthesis of eicosanoids, resulting in lower urinary excretion of 6-keto-PGF1 alpha and an enhanced excretion of thromboxane (TXB2). The health significance of these biochemical alterations, detectable at low exposure to Pb is unknown. As they were not associated with any sign of renal dysfunction, they may represent reversible biochemical effects or only contribute to the degradation of the renal function from the onset of clinical Pb nephropathy. The urinary excretion of some tubular antigens was also positively associated with duration of exposure to Pb. Another effect of Pb that might deserve further study is a significant increase in urinary sialic acid concentration.
PMCID: PMC1061231  PMID: 8431388
3.  Markers of early renal changes induced by industrial pollutants. I. Application to workers exposed to mercury vapour. 
Several markers of renal changes have been measured in a cohort of 50 workers exposed to elemental mercury (Hg) and in 50 control workers. After application of selection criteria 44 exposed and 49 control workers were retained for the final statistical analysis. Exposed workers excreted on average 22 micrograms Hg/g creatinine and their mean duration of exposure was 11 years. Three types of renal markers were studied--namely, functional markers (creatinine and beta 2-microglobulin in serum, urinary proteins of low or high molecular weight); cytotoxicity markers (tubular antigens and enzymes in urine), and biochemical markers (eicosanoids, thromboxane, fibronectin, kallikrein, sialic acid, glycosaminoglycans in urine, red blood cell membrane negative charges). Several bloodborne indicators of polyclonal activation were also measured to test the hypothesis that an immune mechanism might be involved in the renal toxicity of elemental Hg. The main renal changes associated with exposure to Hg were indicative of tubular cytotoxicity (increased leakage of tubular antigens and enzymes in urine) and biochemical alterations (decreased urinary excretion of some eicosanoids and glycosaminoglycans and lowering of urinary pH). The concentrations of anti-DNA antibodies and total immunoglobulin E in serum were also positively associated with the concentration of Hg in urine and in blood respectively. The renal effects were mainly found in workers excreting more than 50 micrograms Hg/g creatinine, which corroborates our previous estimate of the biological threshold of Hg in urine. As these effects, however, were unrelated to the duration of exposure and not accompanied by functional changes (for example, microproteinuria), they may not necessarily represent clinically significant alterations of renal function.
PMCID: PMC1061230  PMID: 8431387
4.  Assessment of the permissible exposure level to manganese in workers exposed to manganese dioxide dust. 
The prevalence of neuropsychological and respiratory symptoms, lung ventilatory parameters, neurofunctional performances (visual reaction time, eye-hand coordination, hand steadiness, audioverbal short term memory), and several biological parameters (calcium, iron, luteinising hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and prolactin concentrations in serum, blood counts, manganese (Mn) concentration in blood and in urine) were examined in a group of workers (n = 92) exposed to MnO2 dust in a dry alkaline battery factory and a matched control group (n = 101). In the battery plant, the current exposure of the workers to airborne Mn was measured with personal samplers and amounted on average (geometric mean) to 215 and 948 micrograms Mn/m3 for respirable and total dust respectively. For each worker, the lifetime integrated exposure to respirable and total airborne Mn dust was also assessed. The geometric means of the Mn concentrations in blood (MnB) and in urine (MnU) were significantly higher in the Mn exposed group than in the control group (MnB 0.81 v 0.68 microgram/100 ml; MnU 0.84 v 0.09 microgram/g creatinine). On an individual basis, MnU and MnB were not related to various external exposure parameters (duration of exposure, current exposure, or lifetime integrated exposure to airborne Mn). On a group basis, a statistically significant association was found between MnU and current Mn concentrations in air. No appreciable difference between the exposed and the control workers was found with regard to the other biological measurements (calcium, LH, FSH, and prolactin in serum). Although the erythropoietic parameters and serum iron concentration were in the normal range for both groups, there was a statistically significant trend towards lower values in the Mn exposed workers. The prevalences of reported neuropsychological and respiratory symptoms, the lung function parameters, and the audioverbal short term memory scores did not differ between the control and exposed groups. The Mn workers, however, performed the other neurofunctional tests (visual reaction time, eye-hand coordination, hand steadiness) less satisfactorily than the control workers. For these tests, the prevalences of abnormal results were related to the lifetime integrated exposure to total and respirable Mn dust. On the basis of logistic regression analysis it may be inferred that an increased risk of peripheral tremor exists when the lifetime integrated exposure to Mn dust exceeds 3575 or 730 micrograms Mn/m3 x year for total and respirable dust respectively. The results clearly support a previous proposal by the authors to decrease the current time weighted average exposure to Mn dust.
PMCID: PMC1039229  PMID: 1733453
5.  Effects of exposure to cadmium on calcium metabolism: a population study. 
The objective was to investigate the hypothesis that environmental exposure to cadmium may affect calcium metabolism in the population at large. The 1987 participants (965 men and 1022 women), from 20 to 80 years old, constituted a random sample of the population of four Belgian districts. The urinary excretion of cadmium, a measure of lifetime exposure, averaged 9.3 nmol/24 h in men (range 0.4-324 nmol/24 h) and 7.1 nmol/24 h (range 0.1-71 nmol/24 h) in women. Serum alkaline phosphatase activity and the urinary excretion of calcium correlated significantly and positively with urinary cadmium excretion in both men and women, and serum total calcium concentration negatively with urinary cadmium excretion in men only. The regression coefficients obtained after adjustment for significant covariates indicated that when urinary cadmium excretion increased twofold, serum alkaline phosphatase activity and urinary calcium excretion rose by 3-4% and 0.25 mmol/24 h respectively, whereas in men serum total calcium concentration fell by 6 mumol/l. After adjustment for significant covariates the relation between serum total calcium concentration and urinary cadmium excretion was not significant in women. The findings suggest that even at environmental exposure levels calcium metabolism is gradually affected, as cadmium accumulates in the body. The morbidity associated with this phenomenon in industrialised countries remains presently unknown and requires further investigation.
PMCID: PMC1012065  PMID: 1931731
6.  Assessment of the filtration reserve capacity of the kidney in workers exposed to cadmium. 
It has been assessed whether an internal dose of cadmium (Cd), as reflected by a Cd concentration in urine not yet sufficient to induce a significantly increased urinary excretion of various plasma proteins (microproteinuria defined as beta 2-microglobulin in urine greater than 300 micrograms/g creatinine, or retinol-binding protein in urine greater than 300 micrograms/g creatinine, or albumin in urine greater than 15 mg/g creatinine, or a combination of these), may affect the filtration reserve capacity of the kidney. The last was determined by measuring the difference between the baseline creatinine clearance and the maximal creatinine clearance after an acute oral load of protein (400 g of cooked red meat). In total 215 men were examined of whom eventually 87 Cd exposed workers (concentration of Cd in urine greater than 2 micrograms/g creatinine) from zinc/cadmium smelters and 92 control workers (concentration of Cd in urine less than 2 micrograms/g creatinine, absence of microproteinuria, normal fasting serum creatinine) were retained for data analysis performed separately for workers aged less or more than 50 years. Microproteinuria was present in 20 Cd workers, all older than 50. This study confirmed the previous observation that the age related decline of the baseline glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is accelerated in male workers with Cd induced microproteinuria; the same observation was made for the maximal GFR. It was found, however, that a renal Cd burden that had not yet caused microproteinuria did not impair the filtration reserve capacity of the kidney. This study therefore validates the previous estimate of the threshold effect concentration of Cd in urine (10 micrograms/g creatinine) that is intended to prevent the occurrence of microproteinuria in male Cd workers. It should be kept in mind, however, that because of the likely interference of the healthy worker effect, this conclusion may not be directly extrapolated to the general population.
PMCID: PMC1035380  PMID: 2064974
7.  Urinary excretion of mercury after occupational exposure to mercury vapour and influence of the chelating agent meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA). 
The spontaneous and chelator mediated excretion of mercury in urine was investigated in male subjects occupationally exposed to mercury vapour (alkaline battery and chloralkali plants) who did not exhibit any sign of kidney damage. The time course of the spontaneous elimination of mercury in urine was examined in seven workers (age 22-40) who had been removed from exposure to mercury vapour (average duration of exposure 4.4 years) because their urinary mercury concentrations repeatedly exceeded 100 micrograms/g creatinine. The post exposure observation period started 10 to 29 days after the date of removal and lasted about 300 days (slow HgU elimination phase). For each worker, the kinetics of the spontaneous HgU decline followed a first order process; the biological half life ranged from 69 to 109 days (mean 90 days). The increased urinary excretion of mercury after a single oral administration of 2 g meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) was investigated in 16 control workers (group A; age 23 to 49), in 11 workers removed from exposure for at least two years (group B; age 27 to 41), and in 16 workers currently exposed to mercury vapour (group C; age 21 to 58). In group C, the DMSA experiment was repeated twice (three weeks before and three weeks after a holiday) after measures had been taken to reduce the mercury emission. The urinary mercury excretion was significantly higher during the 24 hours after DMSA administration in all groups compared with that in the 24 hours before. The bulk (50-70%) of the DMSA stimulated mercury excretion appeared within the first eight hours. In each group, the amount of mercury (microgram Hg/24h) excreted after DMSA was significantly correlated with that before administration of DMSA. The groups whose exposure had ceased, however, exhibited much higher correlation for coefficients (r=0.97 for group B and 0.86 for group C after three weeks of holiday) than those currently exposed to mercury vapour (r-0.66 for group C before and 9.58 after reduction of exposure). The data suggest that after a few days of cessation of occupational exposure to mercury vapour the HgU before and after administration of DMSA mainly reflects the amount of mercury stored in the kidney, which represents a mercury pool with a slow turnover.
PMCID: PMC1035364  PMID: 1851035
8.  Urinary kallikrein activity in workers exposed to cadmium, lead, or mercury vapour. 
A significant reduction of kallikrein activity in urine (assayed by its amidolytic activity) was found in 64 normotensive workers who had been exposed to cadmium for 11 years on average and whose cadmium concentrations in urine ranged from 2.2 to 33.1 micrograms/g creatinine. The mean (geometric) urinary kallikrein activity (in U/g creatinine) amounted to 0.52 (range 0.11-1.90) in the control group (n = 193) against 0.39 (range 0.10-1.03) in the cadmium group, and the prevalence of abnormally low activity levels (less than or equal to 0.20 U/g creatinine) amounted to 17.2% in the cadmium group against 5.2% in the control group. A reduction of aldosterone release (aldosterone in urine) associated with an increased natriuresis was also observed. This might constitute a compensatory mechanism maintaining blood pressure in the normal range. These biological effects of cadmium were not reversible after removal from exposure. This study indicates that cadmium can induce an irreversible toxic effect in the distal nephron. It also suggests that an excessive cadmium body burden alone may not be sufficient to induce hypertension, but in individuals whose blood pressure regulation may be impaired by other factors cadmium could stimulate the development of hypertension. This study also supports the recommendation to prevent hypertensive subjects from being exposed to cadmium. There was no indication that moderate exposure to mercury vapour (n = 53; mercury in urine, range 11-224 micrograms/g creatinine; average duration of exposure: six years) or to inorganic lead (n = 23; lead in blood, range 40-67 micrograms/100 ml; average duration of exposure: eight years) was associated with a reduction of kallikrein production by the kidney.
PMCID: PMC1035169  PMID: 2357454
9.  Health significance of cadmium induced renal dysfunction: a five year follow up. 
To assess the health significance of the early renal changes after chronic exposure to cadmium, 23 workers removed from exposure because of the discovery of an increased urinary excretion of beta 2-microglobulin or retinol binding protein, or both, have been examined once a year for five years. Eight of these workers had also an increased albuminuria. These workers had been exposed to cadmium for six to 41.7 years (mean 25 years) and their first follow up examination took place when they had been removed from exposure for six years on average. At that time, their mean age was 58.6 years (range: 45.5-68.1). It has been confirmed that the proteinuria induced by cadmium is irreversible. The most important finding, however, is a significant increase of creatinine and beta 2-microglobulin concentrations in serum with time, indicating a progressive reduction of the glomerular filtration rate despite removal from exposure. It is estimated that on average this rate has decreased by 31 ml/min/1.73 m2 during the five year follow up study. This decrease is significantly greater (about five times) than that accounted for by aging and is not more pronounced in workers with impaired renal function at the start of the study than in those presenting only with subclinical signs of renal damage. Serum alkaline phosphatase activity also increases significantly with time. In conclusion, the present study indicates that the early renal changes induced by cadmium should be regarded as adverse effects; they are predictive of an exacerbation of the age related decline of the glomerular filtration rate.
PMCID: PMC1009864  PMID: 2686749
10.  Decrease of erythrocyte and glomerular membrane negative charges in chronic cadmium poisoning. 
Negative charges on red blood cell membranes were measured by the alcian blue binding test in 11 workers with high exposure to cadmium. Compared with 12 age matched control subjects, cadmium workers showed a significant decrease in red blood cell charge, which on average paralleled both the cadmium body burden and protein excretion. Animal data confirm these observations and also show that the loss of red blood cell charge caused by chronic cadmium poisoning is irreversible and associated with a loss of glomerular negative charges. The present study suggests thus that cadmium can increase the urinary excretion of anionic macromolecules such as albumin by reducing the glomerular polyanion charge.
PMCID: PMC1007954  PMID: 3342192
11.  Cadmium and the kidney. 
PMCID: PMC1007681  PMID: 3718893
12.  Comparison of in vivo effect of inorganic lead and cadmium on glutathione reductase system and delta-aminolevulinate dehydratase in human erythrocytes. 
The activity of delta-aminolevulinate dehydratase (ALAD) of erythrocytes, the lead (Pb-B) and cadmium (Cd-B) concentration in whole blood, the content of reduced glutathion (GSH) in erythrocytes, and the regeneration rate of GSH by intact erythrocytes were measured during an epidemiological survey of 84 men employed in a Belgian cadmium and lead producing plant. A control group of 26 persons (students and laboratory staff) was also examined. The logarithm of the ALAD activity is highly inversely correlated with log Pb-B (r = -0.760) but no correlation was found with log Cd-B. There exists a significant negative correlation between GSH and log Pb-B (r = -0.423) but not between GSH AND LOG Cd-B. The apparently good relationship between log ALAD and GSH disappeared completely by holding log Pb-B constant, but log ALAD remained highly inversely correlated with log Pb-B when standardized for GSH concentration (r = -0.748). In vivo investigation of the GSH regeneration rate of intact erythrocytes demonstrated clearly that the overall activity of the glutathione oxidation-reduction pathways is not impaired in Pb and Cd-exposed workers with significantly increased Pb-B and Cd-B, since their initial GSH regeneration rate (first 15 minutes) was identical with that of the control group. Results of similar in vitro experiments in which control whole blood was incubated before-hand with Pb2+ or Cd2+, or both, reinforce this conclusion. Since increased Cd-B and Pb-B do not influence the glutathione reductase system of erythrocytes, and since endogenous erythrocyte GSH is not correlated with Cd-B, the moderate decrease in endogenous erythrocyte Gsh found in Pb-exposed workers might result from a Pb-induced impairment for the erythrocyte mechanism for glutathione synthesis.
PMCID: PMC1008057  PMID: 1156566

Results 1-12 (12)