Journal Article

A Physiologically Based Model for the Ingestion of Chromium(III) and Chromium(VI) by Humans

Ellen J. O'Flaherty, Brent D. Kerger, Sean M. Hays and Dennis J. Paustenbach

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 60, issue 2, pages 196-213
Published in print April 2001 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online April 2001 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI:
A Physiologically Based Model for the Ingestion of Chromium(III) and Chromium(VI) by Humans

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A physiologically based model of human chromium kinetics has been developed, based on an existing physiologically based model of human body and bone growth (O'Flaherty, 1993, Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 118, 16–29; 1995a, Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 131, 297–308; 2000, Toxicol. Sci. 55, 171–18) and an existing physiologically based model of chromium kinetics in rats (O'Flaherty, 1996, Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 138, 54–64). Key features of the adapted model, specific to chromium, include differential absorption of Cr(VI) and Cr(III), rapid reduction of Cr(VI) to Cr(III) in all body fluids and tissues, modest incorporation of chromium into bone, and concentration-dependent urinary clearance consistent with parallel renal processes that conserve chromium efficiently at ambient exposure levels. The model does not include a physiologic lung compartment, but it can be used to estimate an upper limit on pulmonary absorption of inhaled chromium. The model was calibrated against blood and urine chromium concentration data from a group of controlled studies in which adult human volunteers drank solutions generally containing up to 10 mg/day of soluble inorganic salts of either Cr(III) (chromic chloride, CrCl3) or Cr(VI) (potassium dichromate, K2Cr2O7) (Finley et al., 1997, Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 142, 151–159; Kerger et al., 1996, Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 141, 145–158; Paustenbach et al., 1996, J. Toxicol. Environ. Health 49, 453–461). In one of the studies, in which the chromium was ingested in orange juice, urinary clearance was observed to be more rapid than when inorganic chromium was ingested. Chromium kinetics were shown not to be dependent on the oxidation state of the administered chromium except in respect to the amount absorbed at these ambient and moderate-to-high exposures. The fraction absorbed from administered Cr(VI) compounds was highly variable and was presumably strongly dependent on the degree of reduction in the gastrointestinal tract, that is, on the amount and nature of the stomach contents at the time of Cr(VI) ingestion. The physiologically based model is applicable to both single-dose oral studies and chronic oral exposure, in that it adequately reproduced the time dependence of blood plasma concentrations and rates of urinary chromium excretion in one of the subjects who, in a separate experiment, ingested daily 4 mg of an inorganic Cr(VI) salt in 5 subdivided doses of 0.8 mg each for a total of 17 days. The high degree of variability of fractional absorption of Cr(VI) from the gastrointestinal tract leads to uncertainty in the assignment of a meaningful value to this parameter as applied to single Cr(VI) doses. To model chronic oral chromium exposure at ambient or moderately above-ambient levels, the physiologically based model in its present form should be usable with urinary clearance set to a constant value of 1–2 liters/day and the gastrointestinal absorption rate constants set at 0.25/day for Cr(III) and 2.5/day for Cr(VI). The model code is given in full in the Appendix.

Keywords: chromium(III); chromium(VI); physiologically based human kinetic model.

Journal Article.  11731 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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