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Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2013;2013:898034. doi: 10.1155/2013/898034. Epub 2013 Aug 12.

Cadmium and its neurotoxic effects.

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Department of Pathology, The Second Clinical Medical School of Inner Mongolia University for the Nationalities (Inner Mongolia Forestry General Hospital), Yakeshi 022150, Inner Mongolia, China.


Cadmium (Cd) is a heavy metal that has received considerable concern environmentally and occupationally. Cd has a long biological half-life mainly due to its low rate of excretion from the body. Thus, prolonged exposure to Cd will cause toxic effect due to its accumulation over time in a variety of tissues, including kidneys, liver, central nervous system (CNS), and peripheral neuronal systems. Cd can be uptaken from the nasal mucosa or olfactory pathways into the peripheral and central neurons; for the latter, Cd can increase the blood brain barrier (BBB) permeability. However, mechanisms underlying Cd neurotoxicity remain not completely understood. Effect of Cd neurotransmitter, oxidative damage, interaction with other metals such as cobalt and zinc, estrogen-like, effect and epigenetic modification may all be the underlying mechanisms. Here, we review the in vitro and in vivo evidence of neurotoxic effects of Cd. The available finding indicates the neurotoxic effects of Cd that was associated with both biochemical changes of the cell and functional changes of central nervous system, suggesting that neurotoxic effects may play a role in the systemic toxic effects of the exposure to Cd, particularly the long-term exposure.

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