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Molybdenum is an essential trace element found in the daily diet. High concentrations are found in leafy vegetables and legumes. Molybdenum is a cofactor for some enzymes such as aldehyde dehydrogenase, xanthine oxidase and NADH dehydrogenase.

Molybdenum deficiency is rare in adults with normal diets. Molybdenum deficiency has been reported in patients receiving long-term parenteral nutrition. It is associated with symptoms such as stunted growth, reduced appetite, tachycardia, tachypnea, blindness and coma.

Molybdenum is used in the manufacturing of steel alloys, lubricants, or pigments. Occupational exposure is generally from inhalation of dusts or fumes. Molybdenum toxicity is most commonly seen in molybdenum miners. After exposure, molybdenum is primarily eliminated in urine over 5 days.

Molybdenum toxicity interferes with copper uptake. Molybdenum toxicity is primarily due to copper deficiency, which causes hypochromic anemia, neutropenia and uric acid accumulation. Patients may present with auditory and visual hallucinations, insomnia, pain, seizures, and diarrhea

Normal serum concentrations are between 0.3 and 2.0 ng/mL. Normal whole blood concentrations are 0.6-4.0 ng/mL in unexposed individuals and 1.2-4.8 ng/mL in exposed individuals. Some prosthetic devices are composed of chromium, cobalt, and molybdenum. Patients with metallic joint prostheses may have serum molybdenum levels higher than the reference range. High concentrations suggest significant prosthesis wear. High concentrations are also seen in all types of hepatitis.

Molybdenum is quantitated using Inductively Coupled Plasma/Mass Spectrometry. Specimen requirement is a royal blue-top (EDTA) Vacutainer tube of blood.

High concentrations of gadolinium and iodine can interfere with most metals tests. A specimen should not be collected for 96 hours after receiving these agents.

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