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Lead nephropathy: revisiting an overlooked cause of kidney disease

Author(s): Datonye Dennis Alasia

Journal: Nephrology Reviews
ISSN 2035-8261

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: e8;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Despite the recognition of lead nephropathy as a consequence of environmental and occupational lead exposure, lead nephropathy still appears to be underrecognized by physicians as a cause and promoter of chronic kidney disease (CKD), especially in people with more apparent causative factors such as diabetes and hypertension. This review focuses on the clinical, pathophysiological and epidemiological perspectives of lead nephropathy with the objective of promoting the awareness of this important but overlooked cause of CKD among physicians. Literature was reviewed using available medical journals and online literature search through Google, Pubmed, Medline, Medscape and HINARI databases. The key words employed were: Lead Nephropathy, Environmental and Occupational lead exposure and chronic kidney disease. Lead nephropathy which is a tubulointerstitial nephritis, may present acutely or chronically in association with hypertension. The clinical diagnosis of lead nephropathy is complex, because the symptoms are varied and non-specific especially with subclinical nephrotoxicity. The recognition of lead nephropathy can be enhanced if physicians have a high index of suspicion in the assessment of patients with renal disease. It is recommended that the evaluation of environmental and occupational nephrotoxins like lead be incorporated into programs for the prevention of CKD, especially in developing countries where lead exposure and toxicity still remain largely unchecked and the prevalence and burden of CKD is increasing.
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