Effects of elevated lead and cadmium burdens on renal function and calcium metabolism.
To assess the pathophysiologic significance of increased body burdens of lead and cadmium, detailed renal function studies and evaluation of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D metabolism were carried out in 38 industrial workers exposed to lead and cadmium for 11 to 37 yr. Body burden of lead, as assessed by x-ray fluorescence measurement of tibia lead content, was elevated in 58% of the men and, when assessed by excretion of lead after Ca-EDTA infusion, was elevated in 36%. Liver or kidney cadmium burden, as assessed by neutron activation analysis, was elevated in 31%. Creatinine clearance was normal in all workers. One worker was hyperuricemic and two were proteinuric; three had increased beta 2 microglobulin excretion and one had diminished urinary acidifying ability. Maximal urinary concentrating ability was abnormal in a significant fraction, i.e., 52% of the men. Individuals with a high lead burden had a slight decrease in mean serum phosphorus but no accompanying phosphaturia. There was no abnormality of serum calcium. Twenty-two percent of subjects were hypercalciuric and two had low vitamin D levels, but these abnormalities bore no relation to heavy metal burden. In this carefully characterized group of men with chronic lead and calcium exposure, definite, if subclinical, effects on renal function and serum phosphorus but not calcium or vitamin D metabolism were demonstrable.
Greenberg, A; Parkinson, DK; Fetterolf, DE; Puschett, JB; Ellis, KJ; Wielopolski, L; Vaswani, AN; Cohn, SH; Landrigan, PJ
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