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The Bioinorganic Chemistry of Cadmium in the Context of Its Toxicity

  • Wolfgang MaretEmail author
  • Jean-Marc Moulis
Part of the Metal Ions in Life Sciences book series (MILS, volume 11)

Abstract

Cadmium is known for its toxicity in animals and man as it is not used in these species. Its only role in biology is as a zinc replacement at the catalytic site of a particular class of carbonic anhydrases in some marine diatoms. The toxicity of cadmium continues to be a significant public health concern as cadmium enters the food chain and it is taken up by tobacco smokers. The biochemical basis for its toxicity has been the objective of research for over 50 years. Cadmium damages the kidneys, the lungs upon inhalation, and interferes with bone metabolism. Evidence is accumulating that it affects the cardiovascular system. Cadmium is classified as a human carcinogen. It generates oxidative stress. This chapter discusses the chemistry and biochemistry of cadmium(II) ions, the only important state of cadmium in biology. This background is needed to interpret the countless effects of cadmium in laboratory experiments with cultured cells or with animals with regard to their significance for human health. Evaluation of the risks of cadmium exposure and the risk factors that affect cadmium’s biological effects in tissues is an on-going process. It appears that the more we learn about the biochemistry of cadmium and the more sensitive assays we develop for determining exposure, the lower we need to set the upper limits for exposure to protect those at risk. But proper control of cadmium’s presence and interactions with living species and the environment still needs to be based on improved knowledge about the mechanisms of cadmium toxicity; the gaps in our knowledge in this area are discussed herein.

Keywords

buffering of metals cadmium metal homeostasis metal signaling toxicity 

Abbreviations

ATDSR

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

CFTR

cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator

DMT1

divalent metal transporter 1

EDTA

ethylenediamine-N,N,N’,N’-tetraacetate

ER

estrogen receptor

GSH

glutathione

HIF

hypoxia inducible factor

LD

lethal dose

MAPK

mitogen activated protein kinase

MRE

metal response element

MRP1

multiple drug resistance protein

MT

metallothionein

MTF-1

metal transcription factor 1

NF-κB

necrosis factor κB

PAC

perturbed angular correlation

PARP1

poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase 1

PTWI

provisional tolerable weekly intake

TNFα

tumor necrosis factor α

TRP

transient receptor potential

XPA

xeroderma pigmentosum complementation group A

ZIP

Zrt- and Irt-related proteins

ZnT

zinc transporter

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.King’s College London, School of Medicine, Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences DivisionMetal Metabolism GroupLondonUK
  2. 2.CEA, DSV, IRTSV, Laboratoire de Chimie et Biologie des MétauxGrenobleFrance
  3. 3.CNRS UMR5249GrenobleFrance
  4. 4.Université Joseph FourierGrenoble 1France

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