Modulation of metal toxicity by metallothionein

Biol Trace Elem Res. Jul-Sep 1989;21:131-5. doi: 10.1007/BF02917245.


Toxic properties of several metals may be modified, since they are bound to metallothionein in vivo. Such modulation is particularly well known for cadmium (Cd), whose acute effects are prevented by metallothionein induction, whereas chronic effects on the kidney are partly explained on the basis of transport of cadmium-metallothionein (CdMt) into the kidney. Although intracellular Mt synthesis is induced by Cd, offering partial protection, nephrotoxicity may occur at times when such protection is insufficient. Perturbations in renal calcium metabolism may be an important basis for membrane dysfunction leading to proteinuria.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cadmium / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Mercury / toxicity
  • Metallothionein / physiology*
  • Metals / toxicity*


  • Metals
  • Cadmium
  • Metallothionein
  • Mercury