Silica Nephropathy

N Ghahramani

Abstract


Occupational exposure to heavy metals, organic solvents and silica is associated with a variety of renal manifestations. Improved understanding of occupational renal disease provides insight into environmental renal disease, improving knowledge of disease pathogenesis. Silica (SiO2) is an abundant mineral found in sand, rock, and soil. Workers exposed to silica include sandblasters, miners, quarry workers, masons, ceramic workers and glass manufacturers. New cases of silicosis per year have been estimated in the US to be 3600–7300. Exposure to silica has been associated with tubulointerstitial disease, immune-mediated multisystem disease, chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease. A rare syndrome of painful, nodular skin lesions has been described in dialysis patients with excessive levels of silicon. Balkan endemic nephropathy is postulated to be due to chronic intoxication with drinking water polluted by silicates released during soil erosion. The mechanism of silica nephrotoxicity is thought to be through direct nephrotoxicity, as well as silica-induced autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma and systemic lupus erythematosus. The renal histopathology varies from focal to crescentic and necrotizing glomerulonephritis with aneurysm formation suggestive of polyarteritis nodosa. The treatment for silica nephrotoxicity is non-specific and depends on the mechanism and stage of the disease. It is quite clear that further research is needed, particularly to elucidate the pathogenesis of silica nephropathy. Considering the importance of diagnosing exposure-related renal disease at early stages, it is imperative to obtain a thorough occupational history in all patients with renal disease, with particular emphasis on exposure to silica, heavy metals, and solvents.

Keywords


Occupations; Kidney; Silicon dioxide; Silicosis; Kidney diseases; Glomerulonephritis; Nephrotoxicity; Balkan nephropathy

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 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

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