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Nickel exposure and prevalent albuminuria and β2-microglobulinuria: evidence from a population-based study
  1. Gang Liu1,
  2. Qi Sun2,3,
  3. Mingjiang Zhu1,
  4. Liang Sun1,
  5. Zhenzhen Wang1,
  6. Huaixing Li1,
  7. Zi Li1,
  8. Yan Chen1,
  9. Huiyong Yin1,
  10. Xu Lin1
  1. 1From the Key Laboratory of Nutrition and Metabolism, Institute for Nutritional Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China
  2. 2Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Xu Lin, Institute for Nutritional Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 320 Yue-Yang Rd., Shanghai 200031, China; xlin{at} Huiyong Yin, Institute for Nutritional Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 320 Yue-Yang Rd., Shanghai, 200031, China;


Background High exposure to nickel could induce renal dysfunction in rodents and occupational workers. However, little is known about the effects of non-occupational exposure to nickel on renal health in the general population. We aimed to examine the associations of urinary nickel concentrations with albuminuria and β2-microglobulinuria in Chinese adults.

Methods 2115 non-institutionalised Chinese men and women aged 55–76 years from Beijing and Shanghai were included. Urinary nickel concentrations were assessed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy. Plasma uric acid, urea nitrogen, C reactive protein and urinary albumin, β2–microglobulin and creatinine were measured. Albuminuria was defined as urinary albumin ≥30 mg/g creatinine, and β2-microglobulinuria was defined as urinary β2-microglobulin ≥200 µg/g creatinine.

Results Median concentration of urinary nickel was 3.95 μg/g creatinine (IQR: 2.57–6.71 μg/g creatinine), and prevalence of albuminuria, β2–microglobulinuria and both albuminuria and β2-microglobulinuria was 22.1%, 24.5% and 9.7%, respectively. Comparing the highest with the lowest quartile of urinary nickel, the ORs (95% CIs) were 1.99 (1.46 to 2.78) for albuminuria, 1.44 (1.07 to 1.95) for β2–microglobulinuria, and 2.95 (1.74 to 4.97) for both albuminuria and β2-microglobulinuria, after adjustment for demographic characteristics, lifestyle behaviours, body mass index, hypertension and diabetes. The association remained significant when further controlling for inflammatory markers or other heavy metals (all p trend <0.05).

Conclusions This study suggested that urinary nickel levels were positively associated with albuminuria and β2-microglobulinuria in Chinese men and women, who had relatively low background nickel exposure. More prospective studies are needed to confirm our findings.


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