Cadmium (Cd) is an important nephrotoxic pollutant. To examine late effects on the kidney of individuals previously exposed to chronic Cd at very low levels, male Wistar rats were given 20 nmol/kg i.p. injections of Cd every other day for 4 weeks. At the 20(th), 28(th), 36(th), 44(th) and 52(nd) week of the study, renal metal accumulation, morphology and function were examined. Immunochemical staining was performed to detect renal 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT) accumulation, metallothionein (MT) expression, cell proliferation and global DNA methylation. Results showed that renal Cd concentration and MT expression along with 3-NT accumulation were significantly higher in the Cd group than that in the control. Histopathologically renal tubule damage at the early stage and hyperplasia at the late stage were observed in the Cd group. Renal fibrosis in glomeruli was evident in the Cd group, particularly at the late stage of the study. Immunoreactivity of global DNA methylation was markedly diminished in the Cd group at both 20(th) and 52(nd) weeks. These results suggest that previous exposure to chronic Cd at very low level induced persistent damaging effects on the kidney along with increases in cell proliferation and global DNA hypomethylation.
Keywords: Cadmium; methylation; persistent effect; renal dysfunction; renal toxicity.