Risk assessment for a number of workplace or environmental chemicals, especially heavy metals and industrial organic compounds, relies mostly on clinical and epidemiologic findings. The low incidence of chronic nephropathies raises methodological issues in carrying out and interpreting human data on the progression of early changes towards end-stage renal disease. To overcome such limitations of epidemiological studies, two main approaches have been explored: (i) human studies relying on biomarkers and (ii) experimental animal models. Animal experiments have been useful to characterize early changes, such as hyperfiltration, eventually leading to chronic renal failure. Animal studies provided insights into the mechanisms underlying microalbuminuria and microproteinuria. Such biomarkers of early changes, developed for use at the workplace, have then been used to monitor such chronic disorders and multifactorial diseases as diabetes and arterial hypertension. Another area where Occupational Medicine has provided evidence is the effectiveness of primary prevention over other possible approaches. Avoidance of exposure to heavy metals and volatile hydrocarbons and their derivatives, mainly in individuals with diagnosed renal disorders, remains the best approach towards a substantial reduction in the burden of renal diseases.
Contribution of studies on renal effects of heavy metals and selected organic compounds to our understanding of the progression of chronic nephropathies towards renal failure / I., Franchini; Alinovi, Rossella; Bergamaschi, Enrico; Mutti, Antonio. - In: ACTA BIO-MEDICA DE L'ATENEO PARMENSE. - ISSN 0392-4203. - 76:Supplement 2(2005), pp. 58-67.