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ON a busy day it would be easy to skim the contents of Veterinary Record and pass over an article on cadmium and feline hypertension. That would be a pity as the article by Finch and others (2011), summarised on p 125 in this week's Veterinary Record, is an introduction to an intriguing area of pathophysiology. It also reminds us of the very interesting biological molecules that are the metallothioneins and alerts us to a much larger body of excellent recent research on feline hypertension (Finch 2011).
Metallothioneins are ubiquitous, small, cysteine-rich proteins that readily bind zinc, cadmium and copper; they occur in plants as well as animals (Hassinen and others 2011). They function as intracellular metal ‘buffers’ or ‘metallochaperones’, important in zinc and copper homeostasis and protecting against heavy metal toxicity and oxidative damage (Sutherland and Stillman 2011). There are four metallothioneins (MT1, 2, 3 and 4) of which MT1 and MT2 are inducible by a wide range of stimuli including metals, drugs and inflammatory mediators. Together with MT3 they may also have an important role in …