Research to date suggests that nickel affects not only the metabolism of vitamin B12 but also folates and thus may affect hematopoiesis processes.
The aim of the study was to examine the relationship of nickel (Ni) status to red blood cell (RBC) parameters and serum vitamin B12, folate and homocysteine concentrations in the course of normal pregnancy and in pregnant women with anemia.
The study included fifty-three pregnant women recruited to the study from the Lower Silesia region of Poland, 17 % of whom developed anemia. Nickel concentration was determined in urine, whole blood and food samples by atomic absorption spectrometry. At the same time as the food and urine samples were taken, blood was also collected for the determination of RBC parameters and serum vitamin B12, homocysteine and folate concentrations.
The median reported Ni intake, and the urinary and whole blood nickel contents for the studied pregnant women for the first trimester were respectively – 162.46 μg/day, 3.98 μg/L and 3.32 μg/L; for the second trimester – 110.48 μg/day, 6.86 μg/L and 1.04 μg/L; and for the third trimester – 132.20 μg/day, 3.41 μg/L and 0.70 μg/L. With regard to Ni concentration in whole blood (p = 0.0204) and in urine (p = 0.0003), the differences in the values for individual trimesters were statistically significant. The whole blood Ni level was significantly higher (9.28 vs 3.62 μg/L, p = 0.0114), while the concentration of homosysteine was significantly lower (4.09 vs 5.04 μmol/L, p = 0.0165) in pregnant women with anemia compared to those without anemia. The whole blood Ni concentration was negatively correlated with almost all RBC parameters in non-anemic pregnant women.
Ni status changes with the development of normal pregnancy, and in the case of anemia, an increase in Ni concentration in whole blood is observed. The demonstrated correlations between the Ni status in pregnant women and RBC parameters as well as serum vitamin B12 and folate concentrations suggest that nickel is associated with the methionine-folate cycle, iron homeostasis and bacterial synthesis of vitamin B12 in humans.

Copyright © 2021 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.