A review of chronic lead intoxication: an unrecognized cause of chronic kidney disease

Am J Med Sci. 2004 Jun;327(6):341-7. doi: 10.1097/00000441-200406000-00008.


Chronic lead nephropathy occurs as a result of years of lead exposure. This disease has been prevalent throughout human history. It is important that primary care providers and internists recognize this disorder because it can contribute to progressive loss of kidney function. Diagnosis is made by a thorough history in combination with physical examination. A history of lead intoxication often requires knowledge of the various sources of lead exposure. Laboratory tests, many previously known and some newly described, are available to further support this diagnosis. Therapy to reduce lead burden may be useful when employed early in the disease; new data sheds more light on which patients should be treated and when such patients should undergo chelation therapy. In particular, treatment with calcium EDTA chelation may benefit certain patients with chronic kidney disease by slowing the progression to end-stage renal disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / drug therapy
  • Kidney Diseases / etiology*
  • Kidney Diseases / prevention & control
  • Lead Poisoning, Nervous System / complications*
  • Lead Poisoning, Nervous System / drug therapy
  • Lead Poisoning, Nervous System / prevention & control