Urinary metals concentrations and biomarkers of autoimmunity among navajo and nicaraguan men

Navajo Birth Cohort Study Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Metals are suspected contributors of autoimmune disease among indigenous Americans. However, the association between metals exposure and biomarkers of autoimmunity is under-studied. In Nicaragua, environmental exposure to metals is also largely unexamined with regard to autoimmunity. We analyzed pooled and stratified exposure and outcome data from Navajo (n = 68) and Nicaraguan (n = 47) men of similar age and health status in order to characterize urinary concentrations of metals, compare concentrations with the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) male population, and examine the associations with biomarkers of autoimmunity. Urine samples were analyzed for metals via inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Serum samples were examined for antinuclear antibodies (ANA) at 1:160 and 1:40 dilutions, using an indirect immunofluorescence assay and for specific autoantibodies using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Logistic regression analyses evaluated associations of urinary metals with autoimmune biomarkers, adjusted for group (Navajo or Nicaraguan), age, and seafood consumption. The Nicaraguan men had higher urinary metal concentrations compared with both NHANES and the Navajo for most metals; however, tin was highest among the Navajo, and uranium was much higher in both populations compared with NHANES. Upper tertile associations with ANA positivity at the 1:160 dilution were observed for barium, cesium, lead, strontium and tungsten.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5263
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Antinuclear antibodies
  • Autoimmunity
  • Metals
  • Specific autoantibodies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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