With 15,000 tons produced each year for batteries, alloys, and pigments, the heavy metal cadmium is one of the most serious environmental pollutants. Chronic exposure can induce kidney damage and bone disease and is thought to cause cancer. A study in the August issue of Nature Medicine now shows that cadmium mimics the effects of estrogen, and suggests that even at relatively low doses cadmium might have wide-ranging effects on the body.
Mary Beth Martin and colleagues report that, in rats, cadmium induces several well-known estrogenic responses. These included increased uterine weight, changes in the endometrial lining and increased density of the epithelia of the mammary gland. Moreover, in utero exposure to cadmium affected mammary gland development and onset of puberty in female offspring. The results provide solid evidence that cadmium has estrogenic effects in the whole animal, and follow up on earlier studies reporting that cadmium and other heavy metals such as nickel interact with the estrogen receptor. The new data also broaden the toxic repertoire of cadmium, which is a known kidney toxin, and was recently shown (Jin et al., Nat. Genet. 34, 326–329; 2003) to impair DNA repair processes in yeast.
The investigators did not perform dose-response studies but they found that cadmium induced potent estrogenic responses in rats at doses (5–10 micrograms per kilogram total weight) comparable to the Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake recommended by the World Health Organization (7 micrograms per kilogram per week). In addition to pinpointing another mechanism for some of cadmium’s effects, the new data could call into question current regulatory standards for cadmium exposure.
Jo Webber | alfa
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Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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