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Curr Med Chem. 2018;25(1):49-64. doi: 10.2174/0929867324666170426102343.

Depleted Uranium and Human Health.

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Istituto di Anatomia Patologica, Dipartimento di Scienze Chirurgiche, University of Cagliari; AOU Cagliari, Cagliari. Italy.
Department of Pathology, KU Leuven, Leuven. Belgium.
Department of Pathology, Genk General Hospital, Genk. Belgium.
Dipartimento di Scienze Chimiche e Geologiche, University of Cagliari, Cittadella Universitaria, I-09042 Monserrato-Cagliari, Cagliari. Italy.


Depleted uranium (DU) is generally considered an emerging pollutant, first extensively introduced into environment in the early nineties in Iraq, during the military operation called "Desert Storm". DU has been hypothesized to represent a hazardous element both for soldiers exposed as well as for the inhabitants of the polluted areas in the war zones. In this review, the possible consequences on human health of DU released in the environment are critically analyzed. In the first part, the chemical properties of DU and the principal civil and military uses are summarized. A concise analysis of the mechanisms underlying absorption, blood transport, tissue distribution and excretion of DU in the human body is the subject of the second part of this article. The following sections deal with pathological condition putatively associated with overexposure to DU. Developmental and birth defects, the Persian Gulf syndrome, and kidney diseases that have been associated to DU are the arguments treated in the third section. Finally, data regarding DU exposure and cancer insurgence will be critically analyzed, including leukemia/lymphoma, lung cancer, uterine cervix cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer and testicular cancer. The aim of the authors is to give a contribution to the debate on DU and its effects on human health and disease.


Depleted uranium; Persian Gulf syndrome; desert storm; uranium chemical properties; uranium metabolism; uranium toxicity

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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