An essential element imbalance in the joint might favor gradual degeneration of the articular cartilage. It has been reported that cadmium (Cd) plays an antagonistic role with regards to the presence of essential elements, such as zinc (Zn), iron (Fe), and manganese (Mn), which may favor the development of disabling diseases, like osteoarthritis (OA) and osteoporosis.
3D cultures of human chondrocytes were phenotyped with the Western blot technique and structurally evaluated with histological staining. The samples were exposed to 1, 5, and 10 μM of CdCl2 for 12 h, with a non-exposed culture as control. The concentration of Cd, Fe, Mn, Zn, chromium (Cr), and nickel (Ni) was quantified through plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The data were analyzed with a Kruskal Wallis test, a Kendall’s Tau test and Spearman’s correlation coefficient with the Stata program, version 14.
Our results suggest that Cd exposure affects the structure of micromass cultures and plays an antagonistic role on the concentration of essential metals, such as Zn, Ni, Fe, Mn, and Cr.
Cd exposure may be a risk factor for developing joint diseases like OA, as it can interfere with cartilage absorption of other essential elements that maintain cartilage homeostasis.

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