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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 730789, 14 pages
Review Article

Tight Junction Proteins and Oxidative Stress in Heavy Metals-Induced Nephrotoxicity

Physiology, Biophysics and Neurosciences Department, Center for Research and Advanced Studies, National Polytechnic Institute, Avenida Instituto Politécnico Nacional 2508, Colonia San Pedro Zacatenco, 07360 Mexico, DF, Mexico

Received 20 December 2012; Accepted 27 March 2013

Academic Editor: Cheng-An J. Lin

Copyright © 2013 José L. Reyes et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Kidney is a target organ for heavy metals. They accumulate in several segments of the nephron and cause profound alterations in morphology and function. Acute intoxication frequently causes acute renal failure. The effects of chronic exposure have not been fully disclosed. In recent years increasing awareness of the consequences of their presence in the kidney has evolved. In this review we focus on the alterations induced by heavy metals on the intercellular junctions of the kidney. We describe that in addition to the proximal tubule, which has been recognized as the main site of accumulation and injury, other segments of the nephron, such as glomeruli, vessels, and distal nephron, show also deleterious effects. We also emphasize the participation of oxidative stress as a relevant component of the renal damage induced by heavy metals and the beneficial effect that some antioxidant drugs, such as vitamin A (all-trans-retinoic acid) and vitamin E (α-tocopherol), depict on the morphological and functional alterations induced by heavy metals.