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Environ Res. 1990 Feb;51(1):91-9.

Effect of dietary calcium and lead status on intestinal calcium absorption.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, New York State College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca 14853.


Dietary lead intake was demonstrated to result in two very different effects on intestinal calcium absorption and associated parameters, depending on dietary calcium status. Normal growing 14-day-old chicks were fed diets either low (0.05%) or adequate (1.2%) in calcium and containing varying levels of lead (0%-0.8%) for an additional 10 days. In chicks fed the low calcium diet, ingested lead inhibited intestinal 47Ca absorption, and intestinal calbindin D and alkaline phosphatase synthesis in a dose-dependent fashion. Even at the highest levels of lead, however, this inhibition was limited to the stimulation of these parameters by low dietary calcium. In chicks fed the normal calcium diet, lead exposure did not diminish intestinal 47Ca absorption, or calbindin D or alkaline phosphatase synthesis, but actually elevated the values of these parameters at the higher lead exposure levels. The results indicate that the primary effect of lead, in both cases, occurs at or prior to intestinal protein synthesis and most likely involves the cholecalciferol endocrine system rather than any direct interactions between lead and calcium at the intestinal level.

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