alpha-1-microglobulin: epidemiological indicator for tubular dysfunction induced by cadmium?

T Pless-Mulloli, M Boettcher, M Steiner, J Berger

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives-To evaluate the suitability of a-l-microglobulin as a marker for cadmium induced renal dysfunction.

Methods-alpha-1-Microglobulin was studied in a cross sectional survey in relation to the body burden of cadmium. Concentrations of a-l-microglobulin in 24 h urine of 831 people aged 2-87 years were analysed in association with urinary cadmium excretion, cadmium blood concentration, age, sex, occupational and smoking history, and estimated creatinine clearance. Participants came from a population residentially exposed to cadmium and from two control populations matched for socioeconomic status.

Results The excretion of alpha-1-microglobulin 1 24 h ranged from 0.1 mg to 176.3 mg and 44.4% of samples showed concentrations near the detection limit. Ordinal logistic regression analysis of people of all ages identified a high risk only for males compared with females (odds ratio (OR) 2.14; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.56 to 2.94), age group, and duration of Living on contaminated soil (OR 1.03 1 year; 95% CI 1.02 to 1.04), but not urinary cadmium excretion (OR 1.30; 95% CI 0.96 to 1.77) as significant predictors. For people less than or equal to 50 years of age a weaker effect of sex (OR 1.76; 95% CI 1.13 to 2.73) and age group and an effect of similar magnitude for the duration of soil exposure (OR 1.03; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.04) were found. Also, the urinary cadmium excretion (OR 2.26; 95% CI 1.38 to 3.70) and occupational exposure (OR 1.71; 95% CI 1.03 to 2.83) were found to be significant in this younger age group. The estimated creatinine clearance had no significant impact on the alpha-1-microglobulin excretion.

Conclusion-alpha-1-Microglobulin is a suitable marker for early tubular changes only for people less than or equal to 50 years. It may not be sufficiently specific for cadmium, and therefore not a suitable surrogate for cadmium exposure in epidemiological studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-445
Number of pages6
JournalOccupational and Environmental Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1998


  • alpha-1-microglobulin
  • cadmium
  • marker
  • renal dysfunction
  • LEAD


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