, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 951–960 | Cite as

Mechanisms in cadmium-induced carcinogenicity: recent insights

  • Andrea Hartwig


Cadmium is an environmental pollutant, with relevant exposures at workplaces and in the general population. The carcinogenicity has been long established, most evident for tumors in the lung and kidney, but with increasing evidence also for other tumor locations. While direct interactions with DNA appear to be of minor importance, the interference with the cellular response to DNA damage, the deregulation of cell growth as well as resistance to apoptosis have been demonstrated in diverse experimental systems. With respect to DNA repair processes, cadmium has been shown to disturb nucleotide excision repair, base excision repair and mismatch repair; consequences are increased susceptibility towards other DNA damaging agents and endogenous mutagens. Furthermore, cadmium induces cell proliferation, inactivates negative growth stimuli, such as the tumor suppressor protein p53, and provokes resistance towards apoptosis. Particularly the combination of these multiple mechanisms may give rise to a high degree of genomic instability in cadmium-adapted cells, relevant not only for tumor initiation, but also for later steps in tumor development. Future research needs to clarify the relevance of these interactions for low exposure conditions in humans.


Cadmium DNA repair Gene expression Cell cycle control Apoptosis Genomic instability 



The author gratefully acknowledges Nancy Sobier-Maier for critically proof-reading the manuscript. Research conducted in the author’s laboratory was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and by BWPLUS.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Lebensmitteltechnologie und Lebensmittelchemie, Fachgebiet Lebensmittelchemie und ToxikologieTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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