Cadmium pp 179-194 | Cite as

The Nephropathy of Chronic Cadmium Poisoning

Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 80)


The fact that exposure to cadmium could cause severe acute poisoning was known in the last century, but that cadmium could cause chronic disease was not conclusively shown until the 1940s. In 1950 Friberg presented extensive data on investigations of workers exposed to cadmium oxide dust in an alkaline battery factory. The main findings were chronic lung disease (see Chap. 5 for further details) and chronic renal disease. A decrease in glomerular filtration rate was seen, but the unique feature was a high prevalence of proteinuria of a hitherto unknown type. Examination of urine proteins by electrophoresis and ultracentrifugation showed that the main component of the urine proteins had a molecular weight below that of albumin. Other findings were a decreased concentrating capacity of the kidneys, and a high incidence of nephrolithiasis among the exposed workers. To verify the findings in human beings, Friberg (1950) also performed animal experiments. It was found that cadmium exposure caused proteinuria which differed from the type of proteinuria induced by uranyl salts. Since the workers were also exposed to nickel hydroxide, animals were also exposed to nickel, but the nickel exposure did not produce the same changes as cadmium exposure.


Glomerular Filtration Rate Renal Stone Renal Tubular Acidosis Cadmium Exposure Tubular Dysfunction 
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