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Bone Lead and Endogenous Exposure in an Environmentally Exposed Elderly Population: The Normative Aging Study

Nie, Huiling PhD; Sánchez, Brisa N. PhD; Wilker, Elissa BA; Weisskopf, Marc G. PhD; Schwartz, Joel PhD; Sparrow, David DSc; Hu, Howard MD, MPH, ScD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: July 2009 - Volume 51 - Issue 7 - p 848-857
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181aa0106
Original Articles

Objective: The objective of this study is to investigate the mobilization of lead from bone to blood (endogenous exposure) in a large epidemiologic population.

Methods: Study subjects were 776 participants in the Normative Aging Study. The subjects had their tibia lead, patella lead, blood lead, and urinary N-telopeptide (NTx) levels measured 1 to 4 times from 1991 to 2002. Regression models were estimated to quantify the association between tibia and patella lead and blood lead. We studied nonlinearity of the association, and explored possible factors that may modify it, including age and NTx levels.

Results and Conclusions: There is significant association between bone lead and blood lead, and the association is nonlinear. The nonlinear associations between blood lead and bone lead are not significantly modified by age and NTx.

From the Department of Environmental Health (Dr Nie, Ms Wilker, Dr Weisskopf, Dr Schwartz, Dr Hu), Harvard School of Public Health; Department of Medicine (Dr Nie), Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass; Department of Biostatistics (Dr Sánchez), University of Michigan School of Public Health; Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology and Medicine (Dr Hu), University of Michigan Schools of Public Health and Medicine, Ann Arbor, Mich; Veteran Affairs Boston Healthcare System (Dr Sparrow); Department of Medicine (Dr Sparrow), Boston University School of Medicine; and Department of Epidemiology (Dr Sparrow), Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Mass.

The contents of this manuscript are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIEHS and the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

The authors declare they have no competing financial interests.

Address correspondence to: Huiling Nie, PhD, Channing Lab, 181 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA 02115; E-mail:

©2009The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine