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Significance of the excretion of urinary indicator proteins for a low level of occupational exposure to cadmium.

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Department of Public Health, Gunma University School of Medicine, Japan.


Urinary cadmium (Cd), N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase (NAG), metallothionein (MT), beta 2-microglobulin (BMG), and blood cadmium were determined in 79 workers who had been employed at a Cd pigment factory in Japan. The workers who had been dealing with Cd pigment manufacturing processes were estimated to be exposed to cadmium pigment dust at a maximum concentration of 3.0 micrograms/m3/8 h for about 20 years. The urinary Cd level ranged from 0.2 to 9.7 micrograms/g creatinine with a geometric mean of 1.02 micrograms/g creatinine. Pearson's correlation coefficients between logarithm of urinary Cd and that of NAG, MT, and BMG in urine were 0.45, 0.62, and 0.05, respectively. The correlation coefficients between blood Cd and urinary NAG, MT, and BMG were 0.21, 0.40, and -0.074, respectively. When partial correlation coefficients were calculated to exclude the contribution of age factor, urinary Cd turned out to be significantly correlated with urinary MT (r = 0.55) and NAG (r = 0.52). The present results indicate that urinary Cd is more closely associated with urinary MT and NAG than with BMG, and suggest that MT and NAG could be good indicators of Cd absorption in a Cd-exposed population whose mean urinary Cd level is relatively low, or less than 10 micrograms/g creatinine.

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