Inorganic Carcinogenesis Section, Laboratory of Comparative Carcinogenesis, National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.
Metals have been in the environment during the entire evolution of man and the use of metals is key to human civilization. None-the-less, several very toxic species are included in the metallic elements and compounds either widely used by man and/or widely found in the human environment. This includes the five metallic agents considered human carcinogens, namely arsenic and arsenic compounds, beryllium and beryllium compounds, cadmium and cadmium compounds, chromium(VI) compounds, and nickel compounds, all of which are proven carcinogens in laboratory animals as well. There is significant human exposure to these carcinogenic inorganics, either occupationally, through the environment, or both. Inhalation is typical in the workplace while inhalation or ingestion occurs from environmental sources. Human metallic carcinogens frequently cause tumors at the portal of entry and lung cancers are the most common tumor after inhalation. Agent-specific tumors occur as well, like urinary bladder tumors after arsenic exposure, which are due to biokinetics or mechanisms that are specific to arsenic. Even in their simplest elemental form, metals are not inert, and they have biological activity. However, it should be kept in mind that these inorganic carcinogens, when in the atomic form, cannot be broken down into less toxic subunits, and this, in part, is why they are so important as environmental human carcinogens. This chapter focuses on the metallic agents that are known human carcinogens.
"In recent years, the role of Ni compounds in tumorigenesis has been extensively investigated. Numerous studies have suggested that exposure to nickel soluble and particulate forms may have a carcinogenic potential on the airway epithelium (Ahamed et al., 2014; Forti et al., 2011; Pietruska et al., 2011; Tokar et al., 2011; Wong et al., 2013). A considerable body of evidence exists of the genotoxic and mutagenic activity of Ni ions in human epithelial cells, but the exact mechanisms of nickelinduced tumorigenesis remain poorly understood. "
"More recently, a great number of laboratory and epidemiological studies were reviewed focussing on the health hazards induced by hexavalent chromium-based chemicals (Singh et al., 1999; Thompson et al., 2011). An increased incidence of lung cancer was described in those studies on workers exposed to chromate dust (Tokar et al., 2011). In addition, several adverse changes on haematological parameters were noted in tannery workers (Ramzan et al., 2011). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Inorganic lead compounds are carcinogenic in animals and have carcinogenic potential in humans. In mice, lead (Pb) is a transplacental carcinogen in the kidney. Metallothionein (MT) is a metal-binding protein that can reduce the toxicity of various metals, including Pb, either by direct sequestration or as an antioxidant for metals that generate reactive oxygen species. Although MT appears to reduce Pb carcinogenicity in adult mice it is unknown how MT deficiency may affect Pb carcinogenicity from early life exposure. Thus, groups (n=10) of pregnant MT-I/II double knockout (MT-null) or 129/SVJ MT wild type (WT) mice were exposed to Pb acetate in the drinking water (0, 2000, 4000ppm Pb) from gestation day 8 through birth and during lactation. Maternal drinking water Pb exposure continued to wean at 4 weeks of age and the male offspring were then directly exposed to Pb until 8 weeks of age and observed until 2 years old. High dose (4000ppm) but not low dose (2000ppm) Pb reduced survival in the latter part of the study in both MT-null and WT mice. In MT-null mice, but not WT, early life Pb exposure caused a dose-related increase in testicular teratomas, to a maximum incidence of 28% compared to control (4%). Pb-induced renal cystic hyperplasia, considered preneoplastic, was a prominent occurrence in MT-null mice but nearly absent in WT mice. Pb dose-related increases in renal cystic hyperplasia occurred in adult MT-null with early life exposure with maximal incidence of 52%. Pb-treated MT-null mice also showed dose-related increases in urinary bladder hyperplasia with occasional papilloma that were absent in WT mice. Thus, MT deficiency made mice more sensitive to early life Pb exposure with regard to testes tumors, and renal and urinary bladder preneoplastic lesions.
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