success fail Nov FEB Jun 03 2010 2011 2012 97 captures 17 Sep 2008 - 14 Jun 2019 About this capture COLLECTED BY Organization: Alexa Crawls Starting in 1996, Alexa Internet has been donating their crawl data to the Internet Archive. Flowing in every day, these data are added to the Wayback Machine after an embargo period. Collection: Alexa Crawls Starting in 1996, Alexa Internet has been donating their crawl data to the Internet Archive. Flowing in every day, these data are added to the Wayback Machine after an embargo period. TIMESTAMPS Environmental Medicine | CSEM | GREM | Continuing Education | Patient Education | PEHT | Community Section Contents Learning Objectives Introduction Absorption Excretion Accumulation Half-Life Key Points Progress Check Case Contents Table of Contents Cover Page How to Use This Course Initial Check Cadmium Where Found Exposure Pathways Safety Standards Who is at Risk Biological Fate Pathogenic Changes Acute Effects Chronic Effects Risk Factors Clinical Assessment Laboratory Evaluation Treatment Patient Instructions More Information Posttest Literature Cited Environmental Medicine CSEM GREM PEHT Continuing Education Online Registration Patient Education Community Education ATSDR Resources ATSDR en Español Case Studies (CSEM) Exposure Pathways Health Assessments Health Statements Interaction Profiles Interactive Learning Managing Incidents Medical Guidelines Minimal Risk Levels Priority List ToxFAQs™ ToxFAQs™ CABS Toxicological Profiles Toxicology Curriculum External Resources CDC Cancer eLCOSH EPA Healthfinder® Medline Plus NCEH NIEHS NIOSH OSHA
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Case Studies in Environmental Medicine (CSEM)
What Is the Biological Fate of Cadmium in the Body?
Upon completion of this section, you will be able to
- describe the biologic fate of cadmium in the body.
This section will discuss
- how cadmium is taken into the body,
- its absorption,
- how it distributes throughout the body, and
- why it accumulates in the human body due to its metabolism and excretion
The principal factor determining how much cadmium is absorbed is the route of exposure. Once exposed, how much cadmium is absorbed depends on many factors:
- smoking, and
- nutritional status.
As a cumulative toxin, cadmium body burden increases with age. Women have been shown to have higher blood levels of cadmium than men. Typically women, with lower iron status, are believed to be at risk for greater absorption of cadmium after oral exposure (Olsson et al. 2002).
Once in the lungs, from 10% to 50% of an inhaled dose is absorbed, depending on particle size, solubility of the specific cadmium compound inhaled, and duration of exposure (Jarup 2002). Absorption is least for large (greater than 10 micrometers [µm]) and water-insoluble particles, and greatest for particles that are small (less than 0.1 µm) and water soluble. A high proportion of cadmium in cigarette smoke is absorbed because the cadmium particles found in that type of smoke are very small (ATSDR 1999).
Most orally ingested cadmium passes through the gastrointestinal tract unchanged as normal individuals absorb only about 6% of ingested cadmium, but up to 9% may be absorbed in those with iron deficiency (ATSDR 1999). Also, cadmium in water is more easily absorbed than cadmium in food (5% in water versus 2.5% in food) (IRIS 2006). The presence of elevated zinc or chromium in the diet decreases cadmium uptake.
Absorption through the skin is not a significant route of cadmium entry; only about 0.5% of cadmium is absorbed by the skin (ATSDR 1999).
Absorbed cadmium is eliminated from the body primarily in urine. The rate of excretion is low, probably because cadmium remains tightly bound to metallothionein, MTN, which is almost completely reabsorbed in the renal tubules.
Because excretion is slow, cadmium accumulation in the body can be significant. Cadmium concentration in blood reflects recent exposure; urinary cadmium concentration more closely reflects total body burden. However, when renal damage from cadmium exposure occurs, the excretion rate increases sharply, and urinary cadmium levels no longer reflect body burden.
The total cadmium body burden at birth is non-detectable (CDC 2005). It gradually increases with age to about 9.5 mg to 50 mg (ATSDR 1999). The kidneys and liver together contain about 50% of the body's accumulation of cadmium (HSDB 2006).
The biologic half-life of cadmium in the kidney is estimated to be between 6 to 38 years; the half life of cadmium in the liver is between 4 and 19 years (ATSDR 1999). These long half-lives reflect the fact that humans do not have effective pathways for cadmium elimination. Cadmium has no known biologic function in humans. Bioaccumulation appears to be a by-product of increasing industrialization. Any excessive accumulation in the body should be regarded as potentially toxic.
- Cadmium has no known beneficial function in the human body.
- Cadmium is a cumulative toxin.
- Cadmium is transported in the blood bound to metallothionein.
- The greatest cadmium concentrations are found in the kidneys and the liver.
- Urinary cadmium excretion is slow; however, it constitutes the major mechanism of elimination.
- Due to slow excretion, cadmium accumulates in the body over a lifetime and its biologic half life may be up to 38 years.
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