Arsenic exhibits a differential toxicity to cancer cells. At a high concentration (>5 microM), As2O3 causes acute necrosis in various cell lines. At a lower concentration (0.5-5 microm), it induces myeloid cell maturation and an arrest in metaphase, leading to apoptosis. As2O3-treated cells have features found with both tubulin-assembling enhancers (Taxol) and inhibitors (colchicine). Prior treatment of monomeric tubulin with As2O3 markedly inhibits GTP-induced polymerization and microtubule formation in vitro but does not destabilize GTP-induced tubulin polymers. Cross-inhibition experiments indicate that As2O3 is a noncompetitive inhibitor of GTP binding to tubulin. These observations correlate with the three-dimensional structure of beta-tubulin and suggest that the cross-linking of two vicinal cysteine residues (Cys-12 and Cys-213) by trivalent arsenic inactivates the GTP binding site. Furthermore, exogenous GTP can prevent As2O3-induced mitotic arrest. (+info)
(2/1444) High concentrations of heavy metals in neighborhoods near ore smelters in northern Mexico.
In developing countries, rapid industrialization without environmental controls has resulted in heavy metal contamination of communities. We hypothesized that residential neighborhoods located near ore industries in three northern Mexican cities would be heavily polluted with multiple contaminants (arsenic, cadmium, and lead) and that these sites would be point sources for the heavy metals. To evaluate these hypotheses, we obtained samples of roadside surface dust from residential neighborhoods within 2 m of metal smelters [Torreon (n = 19)] and Chihuahua (n = 19)] and a metal refinery [Monterrey (n = 23)]. Heavy metal concentrations in dust were mapped with respect to distance from the industrial sites. Correlation between dust metal concentration and distance was estimated with least-squares regression using log-transformed data. Median dust arsenic, cadmium, and lead concentrations were 32, 10, and 277 microg/g, respectively, in Chihuahua; 42, 2, and 467 microg/g, respectively, in Monterrey, and 113, 112, and 2,448 microg/g, respectively, in Torreon. Dust concentrations of all heavy metals were significantly higher around the active smelter in Torreon, where more than 90% of samples exceeded Superfund cleanup goals. At all sites, dust concentrations were inversely related to distance from the industrial source, implicating these industries as the likely source of the contamination. We concluded that residential neighborhoods around metal smelting and refining sites in these three cities are contaminated by heavy metals at concentrations likely to pose a health threat to people living nearby. Evaluations of human exposure near these sites should be conducted. Because multiple heavy metal pollutants may exist near smelter sites, researchers should avoid attributing toxicity to one heavy metal unless others have been measured and shown not to coexist. (+info)
(3/1444) Retinoic acid and arsenic synergize to eradicate leukemic cells in a mouse model of acute promyelocytic leukemia.
In acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) patients, retinoic acid (RA) triggers differentiation while arsenic trioxide (arsenic) induces both a partial differentiation and apoptosis. Although their mechanisms of action are believed to be distinct, these two drugs both induce the catabolism of the oncogenic promyelocytic leukemia (PML)/RARalpha fusion protein. While APL cell lines resistant to one agent are sensitive to the other, the benefit of combining RA and arsenic in cell culture is controversial, and thus far, no data are available in patients. Using syngenic grafts of leukemic blasts from PML/RARalpha transgenic mice as a model for APL, we demonstrate that arsenic induces apoptosis and modest differentiation, and prolongs mouse survival. Furthermore, combining arsenic with RA accelerates tumor regression through enhanced differentiation and apoptosis. Although RA or arsenic alone only prolongs survival two- to threefold, associating the two drugs leads to tumor clearance after a 9-mo relapse-free period. These studies establishing RA/arsenic synergy in vivo prompt the use of combined arsenic/RA treatments in APL patients and exemplify how mouse models of human leukemia can be used to design or optimize therapies. (+info)
(4/1444) Interference in the quantitation of methylated arsenic species in human urine.
The aim of this paper is to report on the presence of chemical interferences in the quantitation of methylated arsenic species in human urine when using a method based on selective volatile arsine species generation, chromatographic separation, and hydride generation atomic absorption spectrometry (HGAAS) detection. An abnormal profile of methylated arsenic species characterized by the absence of the peak corresponding to dimethylarsinic acid (DMA) was observed in urine from some individuals exposed to arsenic via drinking water and living in rural communities of northwestern Argentina. The absence of this peak persisted even after the addition of known amounts of DMA to the samples. However, the DMA peak appeared after urine digestion with hydrochloric acid (2M). Samples showing interferences were provided by individuals who had mate consumption and coca-leaf chewing habits. Because the relative proportions of methylated arsenic species present in urine have been used to evaluate the efficiency of the methylation process, interferences in the formation or detection of methylarsines may cause underestimation of As exposure and also lead to erroneous conclusions about relative biomethylation efficiencies. Therefore, we recommend that urine samples should be digested with 2M HCl before performing speciation analysis using HGAA techniques. Further studies on the impact of this type of interferences on other arsenic speciation methods are also required. (+info)
(5/1444) Drinking water arsenic in Utah: A cohort mortality study.
The association of drinking water arsenic and mortality outcome was investigated in a cohort of residents from Millard County, Utah. Median drinking water arsenic concentrations for selected study towns ranged from 14 to 166 ppb and were from public and private samples collected and analyzed under the auspices of the State of Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Drinking Water. Cohort members were assembled using historical documents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Standard mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated. Using residence history and median drinking water arsenic concentration, a matrix for cumulative arsenic exposure was created. Without regard to specific exposure levels, statistically significant findings include increased mortality from hypertensive heart disease [SMR = 2.20; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.36-3.36], nephritis and nephrosis (SMR = 1.72; CI, 1.13-2.50), and prostate cancer (SMR = 1.45; CI, 1.07-1. 91) among cohort males. Among cohort females, statistically significant increased mortality was found for hypertensive heart disease (SMR = 1.73; CI, 1.11-2.58) and for the category of all other heart disease, which includes pulmonary heart disease, pericarditis, and other diseases of the pericardium (SMR = 1.43; CI, 1.11-1.80). SMR analysis by low, medium, and high arsenic exposure groups hinted at a dose relationship for prostate cancer. Although the SMRs by exposure category were elevated for hypertensive heart disease for both males and females, the increases were not sequential from low to high groups. Because the relationship between health effects and exposure to drinking water arsenic is not well established in U.S. populations, further evaluation of effects in low-exposure populations is warranted. (+info)
(6/1444) Mutational spectrum of p53 gene in arsenic-related skin cancers from the blackfoot disease endemic area of Taiwan.
To understand the role of p53 tumour suppressor gene in the carcinogenesis of arsenic-related skin cancers from the blackfoot disease endemic area of Taiwan, we collected tumour samples from 23 patients with Bowen's disease, seven patients with basal cell carcinomas (BCC) and nine patients with squamous cell carcinomas (SCC). The result showed that p53 gene mutations were found in 39% of cases with Bowen's disease (9/23), 28.6% of cases with BCC (2/7) and 55.6% of cases with SCC (5/9). Most of the mutation sites were located on exon 5 and exon 8. Moreover, the results from direct sequencing indicated that missense mutations were found at codon 149 (C-->T) in one case, codon 175 (G-->A) in three cases, codon 273 (G-->C) in three cases, codon 292 (T-->A) in one case, codon 283 (G-->T) in one case, codon 172 (T-->C) in one case and codon 284 (C-->A) in one case. In addition, silent mutations were also found in four cases. These mutations were located at codons 174, 253, 289 and 298 respectively. In immunohistochemistry analysis, p53 overexpression was found in 43.5% (10/23) of cases with Bowen's disease, 14% (1/7) of cases with BCC and 44% (4/9) of cases with SSC. These findings showed that p53 gene mutation rate in arsenic-related skin cancers from the blackfoot disease endemic area of Taiwan is high and that the mutation types are different from those in UV-induced skin cancers. (+info)
(7/1444) The enigma of arsenic carcinogenesis: role of metabolism.
Inorganic arsenic is considered a high-priority hazard, particularly because of its potential to be a human carcinogen. In exposed human populations, arsenic is associated with tumors of the lung, skin, bladder, and liver. While it is known to be a human carcinogen, carcinogenesis in laboratory animals by this metalloid has never been convincingly demonstrated. Therefore, no animal models exist for studying molecular mechanisms of arsenic carcinogenesis. The apparent human sensitivity, combined with our incomplete understanding about mechanisms of carcinogenic action, create important public health concerns and challenges in risk assessment, which could be met by understanding the role of metabolism in arsenic toxicity and carcinogenesis. This symposium summary covers three critical major areas involving arsenic metabolism: its biodiversity, the role of arsenic metabolism in molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis, and the impact of arsenic metabolism on human risk assessment. In mammals, arsenic is metabolized to mono- and dimethylated species by methyltransferase enzymes in reactions that require S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM) as the methyl donating cofactor. A remarkable species diversity in arsenic methyltransferase activity may account for the wide variability in sensitivity of humans and animals to arsenic toxicity. Arsenic interferes with DNA methyltransferases, resulting in inactivation of tumor suppressor genes through DNA hypermethylation. Other studies suggest that arsenic-induced malignant transformation is linked to DNA hypomethylation subsequent to depletion of SAM, which results in aberrant gene activation, including oncogenes. Urinary profiles of arsenic metabolites may be a valuable tool for assessing human susceptibility to arsenic carcinogenesis. While controversial, the idea that unique arsenic metabolic properties may explain the apparent non-linear threshold response for arsenic carcinogenesis in humans. In order to address these outstanding issues, further efforts are required to identify an appropriate animal model to elucidate carcinogenic mechanisms of action, and to define dose-response relationships. (+info)
(8/1444) Arsenic: health effects, mechanisms of actions, and research issues.
A meeting on the health effects of arsenic (As), its modes of action, and areas in need of future research was held in Hunt Valley, Maryland, on 22-24 September 1997. Exposure to As in drinking water has been associated with the development of skin and internal cancers and noncarcinogenic effects such as diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, and cardiovascular diseases. There is little data on specific mechanism(s) of action for As, but a great deal of information on possible modes of action. Although arsenite [As(III)] can inhibit more than 200 enzymes, events underlying the induction of the noncarcinogenic effects of As are not understood. With respect to carcinogenicity, As can affect DNA repair, methylation of DNA, and increase radical formation and activation of the protooncogene c-myc, but none of these potential pathways have widespread acceptance as the principal etiologic event. In addition, there are no accepted models for the study of As-induced carcinogenesis. At the final meeting session we considered research needs. Among the most important areas cited were a) As metabolism and its interaction with cellular constituents; b) possible bioaccumulation of As; c) interactions with other metals; d) effects of As on genetic material; e) development of animal models and cell systems to study effects of As; and f) a better characterization of human exposures as related to health risks. Some of the barriers to the advancement of As research included an apparent lack of interest in the United States on As research; lack of relevant animal models; difficulty with adoption of uniform methodologies; lack of accepted biomarkers; and the need for a central storage repository for stored specimens. (+info)