A population-based urinary and plasma metabolomics study of environmental exposure to cadmium

Yoshiki Ishibashi, Sei Harada, Yoko Eitaki, Ayako Kurihara, Suzuka Kato, Kazuyo Kuwabara, Miho Iida, Aya Hirata, Mizuki Sata, Minako Matsumoto, Takuma Shibuki, Tomonori Okamura, Daisuke Sugiyama, Asako Sato, Kaori Amano, Akiyoshi Hirayama, Masahiro Sugimoto, Tomoyoshi Soga, Masaru Tomita, Toru Takebayashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The application of metabolomics-based profiles in environmental epidemiological studies is a promising approach to refine the process of health risk assessment. We aimed to identify potential metabolomics-based profiles in urine and plasma for the detection of relatively low-level cadmium (Cd) exposure in large population-based studies. Method: We analyzed 123 urinary metabolites and 94 plasma metabolites detected in fasting urine and plasma samples collected from 1,412 men and 2,022 women involved in the Tsuruoka Metabolomics Cohort Study. Regression analysis was performed for urinary N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase (NAG), plasma, and urinary metabolites as dependent variables, and urinary Cd (U-Cd, quartile) as an independent variable. The multivariable regression model included age, gender, systolic blood pressure, smoking, rice intake, BMI, glycated hemoglobin, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, alcohol consumption, physical activity, educational history, dietary energy intake, urinary Na/K ratio, and uric acid. Pathway-network analysis was carried out to visualize the metabolite networks linked to Cd exposure. Result: Urinary NAG was positively associated with U-Cd, but not at lower concentrations (Q2). Among urinary metabolites in the total population, 45 metabolites showed associations with U-Cd in the unadjusted and adjusted models after adjusting for the multiplicity of comparison with FDR. There were 12 urinary metabolites which showed consistent associations between Cd exposure from Q2 to Q4. Among plasma metabolites, six cations and one anion were positively associated with U-Cd, whereas alanine, creatinine, and isoleucine were negatively associated with U-Cd. Our results were robust by statistical adjustment of various confounders. Pathway-network analysis revealed metabolites and upstream regulator changes associated with mitochondria (ACACB, UCP2, and metabolites related to the TCA cycle). Conclusion: These results suggested that U-Cd was associated with metabolites related to upstream mitochondrial dysfunction in a dose-dependent manner. Our data will help develop environmental Cd exposure profiles for human populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
JournalEnvironmental Health and Preventive Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Cadmium
  • Metabolomics
  • Multivariable regression model
  • Plasma
  • Urine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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