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Kidney Int. 2007 Oct;72(8):985-93. Epub 2007 Aug 8.

Kidney injury molecule-1 is an early biomarker of cadmium nephrotoxicity.

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Department of Pharmacology, Midwestern University, Downers Grove, Illinois 60515, USA.


Cadmium (Cd) exposure results in injury to the proximal tubule characterized by polyuria and proteinuria. Kidney injury molecule-1 (Kim-1) is a transmembrane glycoprotein not normally detected in the mature kidney, but is upregulated and shed into the urine following nephrotoxic injury. In this study, we determine if Kim-1 might be a useful early biomarker of Cd nephrotoxicity. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were given daily injections of Cd for up to 12 weeks. Weekly urine samples were analyzed for Kim-1, protein, creatinine, metallothionein, and Clara cell protein CC-16. Significant levels of Kim-1 were detected in the urine by 6 weeks and continued to increase throughout the treatment period. This appearance of Kim-1 occurred 4-5 weeks before the onset of proteinuria, and 1-3 weeks before the appearance of metallothionein and CC-16. Higher doses of Cd gave rise to higher Kim-1 excretion. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) expression analysis showed that Kim-1 transcript levels were increased after 6 weeks at the low dose of Cd. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that Kim-1 was present in proximal tubule cells of the Cd-treated rats. Our results suggest that Kim-1 may be a useful biomarker of early stages of Cd-induced proximal tubule injury.

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