Effects of molybdenum on the organism (a review)

J Hyg Epidemiol Microbiol Immunol. 1984;28(4):405-19.


Molybdenum belongs to a group of essential microelements and occurs in all components of the environment. Major Mo sources for man are foods, especially vegetable, to a lesser extent drinking water. Its metabolism is primarily influenced by interaction with other metals, specifically copper and iron. In the organism it is primarily accumulated in the liver, kidneys, skin and hard tissues. In the blood it binds specifically with alpha-2-macroglobulin, in the erythrocytic membrane with spectrin; it enhances the osmotic resistance of red blood cells. From the organism it is eliminated in the urine, bile and feces. The biochemical importance of molybdenum lies in that it catalyzes the oxidation of xanthine and purine bases and the reduction of nitrates and molecular nitrogen; it is also present in the prosthetic group of flavoprotein enzymes. As shown in both epidemiological and animal studies, molybdenum ions may prevent dental caries. Long-term overexposure to Mo may produce molybdenosis (teart) in cattle. Increased exposures of humans may be primarily encountered in the foundry industry, but the toxic manifestations are invariably nonspecific, similarly as in the case of other heavy metals. Molybdenum-exposed workers may also show elevated uric acid concentrations in their blood, simultaneously with clinical symptoms resembling gout (gout-like syndrome). A similar finding may also occur among individuals living in areas characterized by elevated molybdenum and decreased copper contents in soil. The maximum allowable concentration limits established for soluble and insoluble molybdenum compounds in the workplace air have been accepted in many countries, but their values vary in a wide range. No specific exposure test for molybdenum has been developed as yet.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Bile / metabolism
  • Child
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Food Analysis
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Male
  • Molybdenum* / analysis
  • Molybdenum* / therapeutic use
  • Nutritive Value
  • Sulfates / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Water / analysis
  • Xanthine Oxidase / metabolism


  • Sulfates
  • Water
  • Molybdenum
  • Xanthine Oxidase