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High Levels of Cadmium in Young Smokers

Cadmium affects transcription and damages vascular endothelium

MONDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Cadmium and strontium are present at high levels in the blood of young smokers and cadmium has multiple effects on the vascular endothelium, according to a study in the April issue of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

David Bernhard, Ph.D., of Innsbruck Medical University in Austria, and colleagues measured the serum concentrations of aluminum, cadmium, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, lead, strontium and zinc in 10 non-smokers, 24 passive smokers and 18 smokers, all of whom were university students with a mean age of 25. They then assessed the effects of the metals on transcription in primary arterial endothelial cells by microarray technology and real-time polymerase chain reaction.

The researchers found that levels of cadmium and strontium were significantly higher in the blood of smokers. While strontium had no effect on transcription in endothelial cells, cadmium massively upregulated metal and oxidant defense genes, downregulated some transcription factors, reduced the expression of a protein important for cellular shape and downregulated some pro-inflammatory genes.

"The present data suggest that by delivering (cadmium) to the human body, smoking deregulates transcription, exerts stress, and damages the structure of the vascular endothelium; furthermore, in contrast to the effects of cigarette smoke as a whole, (cadmium) seems to possess anti-inflammatory properties," the authors conclude.

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