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Trace Element Abnormalities in Chronic Uremia

W. RODMAN SMYTHE, Ph.D.; ALLEN C. ALFREY, M.D.; PETER W. CRASWELL, M.B., B.S.; CYNTHIA A. CROUCH, B.A.; LLOYD S. IBELS, M.B., B.S.; HIDEO KUBO, Ph.D.; LEWIS L. NUNNELLEY, Ph.D.; and HARVEY RUDOLPH, Ph.D.
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Grant support: in part by contract NO1-AM-4-2217, the National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism and Digestive Diseases, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services; The Postgraduate Medical Foundation of Australia; The National Heart Foundation of Australia; The Norman Rose Scholarship of Sydney Hospital; and contract DE-AC02-76ER00535, the Department of Energy.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to W. Rodman Smythe, Ph.D.; Nuclear Physics Laboratory, Campus Box 446, University of Colorado; Boulder, CO 80309.


Boulder and Denver, Colorado; and Brisbane and St. Leonards, Australia


© 1982 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1982;96(3):302-310. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-96-3-302
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We studied the elemental composition of autopsy tissue samples to characterize the trace element changes induced in various human tissues by uremia. Samples from the United States and Australia, including those from 120 uremic patients who had been on dialysis, 29 uremic patients who had not been on dialysis, and 64 control subjects, were analyzed by x-ray fluorescence. Tissues analyzed were aorta, bone, brain, heart, kidney, liver, lung, muscle, and spleen; elements measured included potassium, calcium, iron, copper, zinc, selenium, bromine, rubidium, strontium, molybdenum, cadmium, tin, and uranium. Uremic abnormalities that were statistically very significant were found, including increases of calcium, strontium, molybdenum, cadmium, and tin and decreases of potassium and rubidium. The distributions of iron, copper, and zinc are altered. We conclude that these abnormalities are primarily the result of the uremia and that, generally, they are neither greatly moderated nor exacerbated by the dialysis procedure.

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