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Record Information
Creation Date2006-08-15 22:23:45 UTC
Update Date2016-02-11 01:03:02 UTC
Secondary Accession NumbersNone
Metabolite Identification
Common NameChromium
DescriptionChromium is a naturally occurring heavy metal found in the environment commonly in trivalent, Cr(III), and hexavalent, Cr(VI), forms. The reduction of Cr(VI) to Cr(III) results in the formation of reactive intermediates that contribute to the cytotoxicity, genotoxicity and carcinogenicity of Cr(VI)-containing compounds. The major non-occupational source of chromium for humans is food such as vegetables, meat, urban air, hip or knee prostheses and cigarettes. Cr(VI) is a widely used in industrial chemicals, extensively used in paints, metal finishes, steel including stainless steel manufacturing, alloy cast irons, chrome and wood treatment. On the contrary, Cr(III) salts such as chromium polynicotinate, chromium chloride and chromium picolinate (CrP) are used as micronutrients and nutritional supplements and have been demonstrated to exhibit a significant number of health benefits in animals and humans. Physiologically, it exists as an ion in the body. Chromium enters the body through the lungs, gastro-intestinal tract and to a lesser extent through skin. Inhalation is the most important route for occupational exposure, whereas non-occupational exposure occurs via ingestion of chromium-containing food and water. Regardless of route of exposure Cr(III) is poorly absorbed whereas Cr(VI) is more readily absorbed. Further, absorption of Cr(VI) is poorer by oral route, it is thus not very toxic when introduced by the oral route. But chromium is very toxic by dermal and inhalation routes and causes lung cancer, nasal irritation, nasal ulcer, hypersensitivity reactions and contact dermatitis. All the ingested Cr(VI) is reduced to Cr(III) before entering in the blood stream. The main routes for the excretion of chromium are via kidney/urine and the bile/feces. Cr(III) is unable to enter into the cells but Cr(VI) enters through membrane anionic transporters. Intracellular Cr(VI) is metabolically reduced to Cr(III). Cr(VI) does not react with macromolecules such as DNA, RNA, proteins and lipids. However, both Cr(III) and the reductional intermediate Cr(V) are capable of co-ordinate, covalent interactions with macromolecules. Chromium is an essential nutrient required by the human body to promote the action of insulin for the utilization of sugars, proteins and fats. CrP has been used as nutritional supplement; it controls blood sugar in diabetes and may reduce cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Chromium increases insulin binding to cells, insulin receptor number and activates insulin receptor kinase leading to increased insulin sensitivity. But high doses of chromium and long term exposure of it can give rise to various, cytotoxic and genotoxic reactions that affect the immune system of the body. However, the mechanism of the Cr(VI)-induced cytotoxicity is not entirely understood. A series of in vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated that Cr(VI) induces oxidative stress through enhanced production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) leading to genomic DNA damage and oxidative deterioration of lipids and proteins. A cascade of cellular events occur following Cr(VI)-induced oxidative stress including enhanced production of superoxide anion and hydroxyl radicals, increased lipid peroxidation and genomic DNA fragmentation, modulation of intracellular oxidized states, activation of protein kinase C, apoptotic cell death and altered gene expression. Some of the factors in determining the biological outcome of chromium exposure include the bioavailability, solubility of chromium compounds and chemical speciation, intracellular reduction and interaction with DNA. The chromium genotoxicity manifests as several types of DNA lesions, gene mutations and inhibition of macromolecular synthesis. Further, chromium exposure may lead to apoptosis, premature terminal growth arrest or neoplastic transformation. Chromium-induced tumor suppressor gene p53 and oxidative processes are some of the major factors that may determine the cellular outcome. Studies have utilized these approaches to understand the interrelationship between chromium-induced genotoxicity, apoptosis and effects on immune response. (PMID: 12208600 ).
Chromic ionChEBI
Chromium (III) ionChEBI
Chromium metalHMDB
Chemical FormulaCr
Average Molecular Weight51.9961
Monoisotopic Molecular Weight51.940511904
IUPAC Namechromium(3+) ion
Traditional Namechromium(3+) ion
CAS Registry Number7440-47-3
InChI Identifier
Chemical Taxonomy
DescriptionThis compound belongs to the class of chemical entities known as homogeneous transition metal compounds. These are inorganic compounds containing only metal atoms,with the largest atom being a transition metal atom.
KingdomChemical entities
Super ClassInorganic compounds
ClassHomogeneous metal compounds
Sub ClassHomogeneous transition metal compounds
Direct ParentHomogeneous transition metal compounds
Alternative ParentsNot Available
  • Homogeneous transition metal
Molecular FrameworkNot Available
External Descriptors
StatusDetected and Quantified
  • Drug
  • Food
  • Toxin/Pollutant
  • Essential minerals
ApplicationNot Available
Cellular locationsNot Available
Physical Properties
Experimental Properties
Melting Point1900 °CNot Available
Boiling PointNot AvailableNot Available
Water SolubilityNot AvailableNot Available
LogPNot AvailableNot Available
Predicted Properties
Physiological Charge3ChemAxon
Hydrogen Acceptor Count0ChemAxon
Hydrogen Donor Count0ChemAxon
Polar Surface Area0 Å2ChemAxon
Rotatable Bond Count0ChemAxon
Refractivity0 m3·mol-1ChemAxon
Polarizability1.78 Å3ChemAxon
Number of Rings0ChemAxon
Rule of FiveYesChemAxon
Ghose FilterYesChemAxon
Veber's RuleYesChemAxon
MDDR-like RuleYesChemAxon
Spectrum TypeDescriptionSplash Key
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 10V, PositiveNot Available
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 20V, PositiveNot Available
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 40V, PositiveNot Available
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 10V, NegativeNot Available
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 20V, NegativeNot Available
Predicted LC-MS/MSPredicted LC-MS/MS Spectrum - 40V, NegativeNot Available
Biological Properties
Cellular LocationsNot Available
Biofluid Locations
  • Blood
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF)
  • Saliva
  • Urine
Tissue Location
  • Erythrocyte
  • Hair
  • Liver
  • Lymphocyte
  • Skin
PathwaysNot Available
Normal Concentrations
BloodDetected and Quantified0.0035 +/- 0.0013 uMElderly (>65 years old)BothNormal details
BloodDetected and Quantified0.0075 +/- 0.0015 uMAdult (>18 years old)Both
BloodDetected and Quantified0.00308 +/- 0.00400 uMAdult (>18 years old)Both
    • Geigy Scientific ...
Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF)Detected and Quantified0.006+/-0.003 (0.002-0.01) uMAdult (>18 years old)BothNormal details
Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF)Detected and Quantified0.247 +/- 0.067 uMAdult (>18 years old)Not SpecifiedNormal details
SalivaDetected and Quantified0.118 +/- 0.059 uMAdult (>18 years old)BothNormal
    • Zerihun T. Dame, ...
SalivaDetected and Quantified0.0154 - 0.0692 uMChildren (1-13 years old)BothNormal
    • Gian Paolo Sighin...
SalivaDetected and Quantified4.423 +/- 3.846 uMAdult (>18 years old)Male
SalivaDetected and Quantified4.423 +/- 5.193 uMAdult (>18 years old)Male
SalivaDetected and Quantified0.308 +/- 0.154 uMAdult (>18 years old)Not SpecifiedNormal
    • Natheer H. Al-Raw...
UrineDetected and Quantified0.0084 (0.0001-0.0460) umol/mmol creatinineAdult (>18 years old)Both
UrineDetected and Quantified0.0072 +/- 0.004 umol/mmol creatinineChildren (1-13 years old)BothNormal
    • Geigy Scientific ...
    • West Cadwell, N.J...
    • Basel, Switzerlan...
UrineDetected and Quantified0.010 +/- 0.0065 umol/mmol creatinineAdult (>18 years old)BothNormal
    • Geigy Scientific ...
    • West Cadwell, N.J...
    • Basel, Switzerlan...
Abnormal Concentrations
BloodDetected and Quantified0.0069 +/- 0.0035 uMAdult (>18 years old)BothMultiple Sclerosis details
BloodDetected and Quantified0.0067 +/- 0.0013 uMAdult (>18 years old)BothParkinson's Disease details
BloodDetected and Quantified0.032 +/- 0.009 uMAdult (>18 years old)BothDiabetes details
SalivaDetected and Quantified0.577 +/- 0.192 uMAdult (>18 years old)Not Specified
Oral squamous cell carcinoma
    • Natheer H. Al-Raw...
SalivaDetected and Quantified0.577 +/- 0.192 uMAdult (>18 years old)Not Specified
Oral squamous cell carcinoma
    • Natheer H. Al-Raw...
Associated Disorders and Diseases
Disease References
Diabetes mellitus type 2
  1. Stupar J, Vrtovec M, Dolinsek F: Longitudinal hair chromium profiles of elderly subjects with normal glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metabolism. 2007 Jan;56(1):94-104. [17161231 ]
Multiple sclerosis
  1. Forte G, Visconti A, Santucci S, Ghazaryan A, Figa-Talamanca L, Cannoni S, Bocca B, Pino A, Violante N, Alimonti A, Salvetti M, Ristori G: Quantification of chemical elements in blood of patients affected by multiple sclerosis. Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2005;41(2):213-6. [16244395 ]
Parkinson's disease
  1. Forte G, Alimonti A, Pino A, Stanzione P, Brescianini S, Brusa L, Sancesario G, Violante N, Bocca B: Metals and oxidative stress in patients with Parkinson's disease. Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2005;41(2):189-95. [16244392 ]
Associated OMIM IDs
DrugBank IDNot Available
DrugBank Metabolite IDNot Available
Phenol Explorer Compound IDNot Available
Phenol Explorer Metabolite IDNot Available
FoodDB IDFDB003516
KNApSAcK IDNot Available
Chemspider ID25743
KEGG Compound IDC19368
BioCyc IDNot Available
BiGG IDNot Available
Wikipedia LinkChromium
NuGOwiki LinkHMDB00599
Metagene LinkHMDB00599
METLIN IDNot Available
PubChem Compound27668
ChEBI ID49544
Synthesis ReferenceNot Available
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)Download (PDF)
General References
  1. Gambelunghe A, Piccinini R, Ambrogi M, Villarini M, Moretti M, Marchetti C, Abbritti G, Muzi G: Primary DNA damage in chrome-plating workers. Toxicology. 2003 Jun 30;188(2-3):187-95. [12767690 ]
  2. Agaoglu G, Arun T, Izgi B, Yarat A: Nickel and chromium levels in the saliva and serum of patients with fixed orthodontic appliances. Angle Orthod. 2001 Oct;71(5):375-9. [11605871 ]
  3. Kim H, Cho SH, Chung MH: Exposure to hexavalent chromium does not increase 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine levels in Korean chromate pigment workers. Ind Health. 1999 Jul;37(3):335-41. [10441906 ]
  4. MacDonald SJ, McCalden RW, Chess DG, Bourne RB, Rorabeck CH, Cleland D, Leung F: Metal-on-metal versus polyethylene in hip arthroplasty: a randomized clinical trial. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2003 Jan;(406):282-96. [12579029 ]
  5. Vanoirbeek JA, Hoet PH, Nemery B, Verbeken EK, Haufroid V, Lison D, Dinsdale D: Kinetics of an intratracheally administered chromium catalyst in rats. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2003 Feb 28;66(4):393-409. [12554544 ]
  6. Seifert B, Becker K, Hoffmann K, Krause C, Schulz C: The German Environmental Survey 1990/1992 (GerES II): a representative population study. J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 2000 Mar-Apr;10(2):103-14. [10791592 ]
  7. Aguilar MV, Mateos CJ, Martinez Para MC: Determination of chromium in cerebrospinal fluid using electrothermal atomisation atomic absorption spectrometry. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2002;16(4):221-5. [12530583 ]
  8. Chuang IC, Lee PN, Lin TH, Chen GS: Determination of some elements in the cervical mucus of healthy Taiwanese women, by GF-AAS. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2002 May;86(2):137-43. [12008976 ]
  9. Gaggelli E, Berti F, D'Amelio N, Gaggelli N, Valensin G, Bovalini L, Paffetti A, Trabalzini L: Metabolic pathways of carcinogenic chromium. Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Oct;110 Suppl 5:733-8. [12426122 ]
  10. Ravina A, Slezak L, Mirsky N, Bryden NA, Anderson RA: Reversal of corticosteroid-induced diabetes mellitus with supplemental chromium. Diabet Med. 1999 Feb;16(2):164-7. [10229312 ]
  11. Torra M, Rodamilans M, Corbella J, Ferrer R, Mazzara R: Blood chromium determination in assessing reference values in an unexposed Mediterranean population. Biol Trace Elem Res. 1999 Nov;70(2):183-9. [10535527 ]
  12. Kocadereli L, Atac PA, Kale PS, Ozer D: Salivary nickel and chromium in patients with fixed orthodontic appliances. Angle Orthod. 2000 Dec;70(6):431-4. [11138646 ]
  13. Kang EK, Lee S, Park JH, Joo KM, Jeong HJ, Chang IS: Determination of hexavalent chromium in cosmetic products by ion chromatography and postcolumn derivatization. Contact Dermatitis. 2006 May;54(5):244-8. [16689807 ]
  14. Liden C, Skare L, Lind B, Nise G, Vahter M: Assessment of skin exposure to nickel, chromium and cobalt by acid wipe sampling and ICP-MS. Contact Dermatitis. 2006 May;54(5):233-8. [16689805 ]
  15. Shigeta A, Ratanamaneechat S, Srisukho S, Tanaka M, Moriyama Y, Suwanagool S, Miki M: Epidemiological correlation between chromium content in gallstones and cholesterol in blood. J Med Assoc Thai. 2002 Feb;85(2):183-94. [12081118 ]
  16. Medeiros MG, Rodrigues AS, Batoreu MC, Laires A, Rueff J, Zhitkovich A: Elevated levels of DNA-protein crosslinks and micronuclei in peripheral lymphocytes of tannery workers exposed to trivalent chromium. Mutagenesis. 2003 Jan;18(1):19-24. [12473731 ]
  17. Vaglenov A, Nosko M, Georgieva R, Carbonell E, Creus A, Marcos R: Genotoxicity and radioresistance in electroplating workers exposed to chromium. Mutat Res. 1999 Oct 29;446(1):23-34. [10613183 ]
  18. Iarmarcovai G, Sari-Minodier I, Chaspoul F, Botta C, De Meo M, Orsiere T, Berge-Lefranc JL, Gallice P, Botta A: Risk assessment of welders using analysis of eight metals by ICP-MS in blood and urine and DNA damage evaluation by the comet and micronucleus assays; influence of XRCC1 and XRCC3 polymorphisms. Mutagenesis. 2005 Nov;20(6):425-32. Epub 2005 Oct 18. [16234265 ]
  19. Kolacinski Z, Kostrzewski P, Kruszewska S, Razniewska G, Mielczarska J: Acute potassium dichromate poisoning: a toxicokinetic case study. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1999;37(6):785-91. [10584593 ]
  20. Morris BW, MacNeil S, Hardisty CA, Heller S, Burgin C, Gray TA: Chromium homeostasis in patients with type II (NIDDM) diabetes. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 1999 Jul;13(1-2):57-61. [10445219 ]
  21. Shrivastava R, Upreti RK, Seth PK, Chaturvedi UC: Effects of chromium on the immune system. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2002 Sep 6;34(1):1-7. [12208600 ]