Exposure to a single metal has been reported to damage renal function in humans. However, information regarding the association between multiple-metal exposure and markers for early renal impairment in different sexes among the young adult Taiwanese population is scarce. We assessed the association between exposure to arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), and lead (Pb), and early renal impairment markers using urinary microalbumin (MA), β2-microglobulin (β2MG), and N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase (NAG) by analyzing 157 young adults aged 20‒29 years, in Taiwan. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry was used to determine urinary As, Cd, and Pb levels. Regression models were applied to different sex groups. The results showed that after adjusting for potential confounding factors and each metal, urinary Cd levels were significantly positively associated with urinary MA (β = 0.523, 95% CI: 0.147–0.899) and β2MG (β = 1.502, 95% CI: 0.635–2.370) in males. However, the urinary Cd level was significantly positively associated with only urinary NAG (β = 0.161, 95% CI: 0.027–0.296) in females. This study thus indicates that the effect of exposure to metals (especially Cd) on early renal impairment among young adults in Taiwan is sex-specific. Our study results could contribute toward developing early intervention programs for decreasing the incidence of renal dysfunction. Further studies are warranted to confirm our findings and clarify the potential mechanisms involved.
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