Renal effects of cadmium body burden of the general population

Lancet. 1990 Sep 22;336(8717):699-702. doi: 10.1016/0140-6736(90)92201-r.


In a cross-sectional population study to assess whether environmental exposure to cadmium is associated with renal dysfunction, 1699 subjects aged 20-80 years were studied as a random sample of four areas of Belgium with varying degrees of cadmium pollution. After standardisation for several possible confounding factors, five variables (urinary excretion of retinol-binding protein, N-acetyl-beta-glucosaminidase, beta 2-microglobulin, aminoacids, and calcium) were significantly associated with the urinary excretion of cadmium (as a marker of cadmium body burden), suggesting the presence of tubular dysfunction. There was a 10% probability of values of these variables being abnormal when cadmium excretion exceeded 2-4 micrograms/24 h. Excretion reached this threshold in 10% of non-smokers. There was also evidence that diabetic patients may be more susceptible to the toxic effect of cadmium on the renal proximal tubule.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosaminidase / urine
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amino Acids / urine
  • Belgium
  • Body Burden
  • Cadmium / blood
  • Cadmium / urine*
  • Calcium / urine
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / drug effects
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins / urine
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • beta 2-Microglobulin / urine


  • Amino Acids
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins
  • beta 2-Microglobulin
  • Cadmium
  • Acetylglucosaminidase
  • Calcium