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Toxicol Sci. 2011 Jul;122(1):198-210. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfr100. Epub 2011 May 3.

Cadmium induces anemia through interdependent progress of hemolysis, body iron accumulation, and insufficient erythropoietin production in rats.

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Division of Environmental Toxicology, Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Jichi Medical University, Yakushiji, Shimotsuke, Tochigi, Japan.


Cadmium is a toxic heavy metal and distributed widely in the environment. In addition to damaging the liver, kidneys, and bone, cadmium causes anemia through hemolysis, iron deficiency, and insufficient erythropoietin (EPO) production (renal anemia) along with changes in iron metabolism. Here, we investigated the role of iron in the interdependent progress of three types of anemia in cadmium-injected rats fed iron-sufficient or iron-deficient diets for 1 or 3 months. Cadmium injections for 1 month induced renal anemia without renal injury. Injections for 3 months induced hemolysis, iron deficiency, and renal anemia, accompanied by hepatic and renal damage. Iron concentrations in the liver, kidney, and spleen were increased, derived from internally released iron from hemolyzed red blood cells, increased duodenal iron absorption, insufficient erythropoiesis, and hepatic ferritin overproduced by cadmium-induced interleukin-6. Therefore, the iron deficiency anemia was actually apparent. Cadmium suppressed renal EPO production through a direct effect, accumulated iron, and destruction of EPO-producing cells. Increased duodenal iron absorption could be attributed to hypertrophy of the duodenal mucosa derived from anemia. Thus, insufficient EPO production and iron accumulation are the central factors driving anemia in cadmium toxicity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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