Cadmium-induced kidney injury: Oxidative damage as a unifying mechanism

Liang Jun Yan, Daniel C. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Cadmium is a nonessential metal that has heavily polluted the environment due to human activities. It can be absorbed into the human body via the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, and the skin, and can cause chronic damage to the kidneys. The main site where cadmium accumulates and causes damage within the nephrons is the proximal tubule. This accumulation can induce dysfunction of the mitochondrial electron transport chain, leading to electron leakage and production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Cadmium may also impair the function of NADPH oxidase, resulting in another source of ROS. These ROS together can cause oxidative damage to DNA, proteins, and lipids, triggering epithelial cell death and a decline in kidney function. In this article, we also reviewed evidence that the antioxidant power of plant extracts, herbal medicines, and pharmacological agents could ameliorate cadmium-induced kidney injury. Finally, a model of cadmium-induced kidney injury, centering on the notion that oxidative damage is a unifying mechanism of cadmium renal toxicity, is also presented. Given that cadmium exposure is inevitable, further studies using animal models are warranted for a detailed understanding of the mechanism underlying cadmium induced ROS production, and for the identification of more therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1575
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Cadmium
  • Kidney injury
  • Mitochondria
  • Oxidative damage
  • Proximal tubule
  • Renal toxicity


Dive into the research topics of 'Cadmium-induced kidney injury: Oxidative damage as a unifying mechanism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this