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Am J Med. 1975 Nov;59(5):630-41.

Occupational lead nephropathy.


Among eight subjects suspected of excessive occupational exposure to lead, detailed examination of renal function identified abnormalities in four. Glomerular filtration rate was less than 87 ml/mim/1.73 m2 in one subject with asymptomatic renal failure, and in three subjects with preclinical renal dysfunction. In the subject with asymptomatic renal failure, chelation therapy increased the glomerular filtration rate, p-aminohippurate (PAH) extraction, the maximal PAH secretion rate (TmPAH) and improved proximal tubule ultrastructure, despite decreased renal plasma flow. This improvement in PAH transport was associated with correction of a proximal tubule defect in tritiated PAH uptake detected by section freeze-dry autoradiography of renal biopsy specimens. In three subjects, the etiologic diagnosis of lead-induced nephropathy was established by exclusion, but tubular dysfunction did not obviously exceed the reduction in blomerular filtration. Proximal tubule abnormalities were seen in each of the three patients who underwent biopsy. These studies suggest that lead nephropathy may be an important occupational hazard in the United States lead industry.

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