Role of heavy metals in the development of obesity: A review of research

Wydanie: 4 / 2018

Otrzymano: Październik 18, 2017

Zaakceptowano: Maj 10, 2018

Opublikowano online: 2018-07-11


  • Skolarczyk J., Pekar J., Łabądź D., Skórzyńska-Dziduszko K.

Kategorie: Medicine and veterinary

DOI: 10.5601/jelem.2018.23.1.1545


Obesity is an excessive accumulation of body fat, above its physiological needs and adaptive capacity. Causes of obesity are overeating, lack of physical activity, genetic factors, damage to the hypothalamus and abdominal-medial hypothalamic nuclei, some medications, mood disorders and stress. Results of some studies imply that trace heavy metals may represent significant risk factors for the development of obesity, especially in areas that the degree of metal pollution is considerable. Our aim has been to present results of recent research into the role of heavy metals in the development of obesity. There are many studies on the relationship of exposure to heavy metals such as manganese, barium, cobalt, cadmium, lead, zinc, iron, or copper and obesity. The relationship between cadmium and its effects on obesity has been demonstrated. Exposure to cadmium results in a meaningful increase in hepatic GluT2, glucokinase, carbohydrate regulatory element binding protein (Chrebp), and pyruvate kinase mRNA. At the same time, activation of lipogenic proteins was discovered. Cadmium exposure resulted in a significant increase in free fatty acids and serum glucose level. Fat cells exposed to this metal significantly decreased dose-dependent cell viability after Cd2+ exposure. Adipocytes exposed to cadmium are characterized by an elevated rate of lipogenesis from glucose. As for the other heavy metals, further research is needed because not every study has linked these elements, especially cobalt and lead, to obesity. It has been shown that a lower concentration of zinc and a higher concentration of copper in blood can increase the risk of obesity. However, it is necessary to recognize the mechanisms of action of these elements on the process of obesity.


Skolarczyk J., Pekar J., Łabądź D., Skórzyńska-Dziduszko K. 2018. Role of heavy metals in the development of obesity: A review of research. J. Elem., 23(4): 1271-1280. DOI:  10.5601/jelem.2018.23.1.1545

Słowa kluczowe:

obesity, zinc, cadmium, lead

O wydaniu:


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