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Cadmium Is a Novel and Independent Risk Factor for Early Atherosclerosis Mechanisms and In Vivo Relevance *

Objectives — Although cadmium (Cd) is an important and common environmental pollutant and has been linked to cardiovascular diseases, little is known about its effects in initial stages of atherosclerosis.

Methods and Results — In the 195 young healthy women of the Atherosclerosis Risk Factors in Female Youngsters (ARFY) study, cadmium (Cd) level was independently associated with early atherosclerotic vessel wall thickening (intima-media thickness exceeding the 90th percentile of the distribution; multivariable OR 1.6[1.1.–2.3], P=0.016). In line, Cd-fed ApoE knockout mice yielded a significantly increased aortic plaque surface compared to controls (9.5 versus 26.0 mm2, P<0.004). In vitro results indicate that physiological doses of Cd increase vascular endothelial permeability up to 6-fold by (1) inhibition of endothelial cell proliferation, and (2) induction of a caspase-independent but Bcl-xL-inhibitable form of cell death more than 72 hours after Cd addition. Both phenomena are preceded by Cd-induced DNA strand breaks and a cellular DNA damage response. Zinc showed a potent protective effect against deleterious effects of Cd both in the in vitro and human studies.

Conclusion — Our research suggests Cd has promoting effects on early human and murine atherosclerosis, which were partly offset by high Zn concentrations.


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As with any procedure, there could be pain or other substantial risks involved. These concerns should be discussed with your health care provider prior to any treatment so that you have proper informed consent and understand that there are no guarantees to healing.

THE INFORMATION IN THIS WEBSITE IS OFFERED FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT IMPLY OR GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE. No Doctor/Patient relationship shall be deemed to have arisen simply by reading the information contained on these pages, and you should consult with your personal physician/care giver regarding your medical treatment before undergoing any sort of treatment or therapy.

Published on 08-18-2009
Authors: Barbara Messner ; Michael Knoflach ; Andreas Seubert ; Andreas Ritsch ; Kristian Pfaller ; Blair Henderson ; Ying H. Shen ; Iris Zeller ; Johann Willeit ; Gunther Laufer ; Georg Wick ; Stefan Kiechl ; and David Bernhard *
Source: Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 2009