, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 165-172

Interactions Between Toxic and Essential Trace Metals in Cattle from a Region with Low Levels of Pollution

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Abstract

Studies on the impacts of pollutant metals and metalloids on livestock have largely focused on animals with relatively high levels of exposure. The impact of low-level environmental contamination, which is more common on agricultural land, is largely unknown. The principal aim of the present study was to examine the effects of low-level environmental contamination on trace metal metabolism in cattle from the rural and relatively uncontaminated region of Galicia (NW Spain). Correlations between toxic (cadmium, lead, and arsenic) and essential trace elements (copper and zinc) were evaluated in the tissues (liver, kidney, and muscle) and blood of 494 cattle from throughout Galicia. Cadmium was the toxic element that had the greatest influence on copper and zinc homeostasis. There was a significant positive association between renal cadmium and zinc residues and a significant negative correlation between kidney cadmium and copper. These interactions are likely to be the result of cadmium-induced effects on metallothionein synthesis. Lead and zinc were positively associated in the kidney, although the mechanism of this interaction is uncertain. Arsenic and copper concentrations were strongly correlated with each other in the liver and may indicate that the high copper levels in animals from copper-rich areas in Galicia interfere with their arsenic excretion. The essential metals copper and zinc were also significantly associated with each other in calves but not in cows.

Received: 24 April 2001/Accepted: 10 September 2001