Arsenic poisoning

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Arsenic poisoning
Other namesArsenic toxicity, arsenic overdose
Arsenic contamination areas.jpg
Areas of the world with high naturally occurring arsenic levels in the groundwater.
Specialty Toxicology
SymptomsAcute: vomiting, abdominal pain, watery diarrhea [1]
Chronic: thickened skin, darker skin, cancer [1]
Causes Arsenic [1]
Diagnostic method Urine, blood, or hair testing [1]
PreventionDrinking water without arsenic [1]
Treatment Dimercaptosuccinic acid, dimercaptopropane sulfonate [2]
Frequency>200 million [3]

Arsenic poisoning is a medical condition that occurs due to elevated levels of arsenic in the body. [4] If arsenic poisoning occurs over a brief period of time symptoms may include vomiting, abdominal pain, encephalopathy, and watery diarrhea that contains blood. [1] Long-term exposure can result in thickening of the skin, darker skin, abdominal pain, diarrhea, heart disease, numbness, and cancer. [1]

Arsenic Chemical element with atomic number 33

Arsenic is a chemical element with symbol As and atomic number 33. Arsenic occurs in many minerals, usually in combination with sulfur and metals, but also as a pure elemental crystal. Arsenic is a metalloid. It has various allotropes, but only the gray form, which has a metallic appearance, is important to industry.

Vomiting involuntary, forceful expulsion of stomach contents, typically via the mouth

Vomiting is the involuntary, forceful expulsion of the contents of one's stomach through the mouth and sometimes the nose.

Abdominal pain Stomach aches

Abdominal pain, also known as a stomach ache, is a symptom associated with both non-serious and serious medical issues.

Contents

The most common reason for long-term exposure is contaminated drinking water. [3] Groundwater most often becomes contaminated naturally; however, contamination may also occur from mining or agriculture. [1] It may also be found in the soil and air. [5] Recommended levels in water are less than 10–50 µg/L (10–50 parts per billion). [1] Other routes of exposure include toxic waste sites and traditional medicines. [1] [3] Most cases of poisoning are accidental. [1] Arsenic acts by changing the functioning of around 200 enzymes. [1] Diagnosis is by testing the urine, blood, or hair. [1]

Drinking water water safe for consumption

Drinking water, also known as potable water, is water that is safe to drink or to use for food preparation. The amount of drinking water required to maintain good health varies, and depends on physical activity level, age, health-related issues, and environmental conditions. Americans, on average, drink one litre of water per day and 95% drink less than three litres per day. For those who work in a hot climate, up to 16 litres a day may be required. Liquid water, along with air pressure, nutrients, and solar energy, is essential for life.

Groundwater water located beneath the ground surface

Groundwater is the water present beneath Earth's surface in soil pore spaces and in the fractures of rock formations. A unit of rock or an unconsolidated deposit is called an aquifer when it can yield a usable quantity of water. The depth at which soil pore spaces or fractures and voids in rock become completely saturated with water is called the water table. Groundwater is recharged from and eventually flows to the surface naturally; natural discharge often occurs at springs and seeps, and can form oases or wetlands. Groundwater is also often withdrawn for agricultural, municipal, and industrial use by constructing and operating extraction wells. The study of the distribution and movement of groundwater is hydrogeology, also called groundwater hydrology.

Mining The extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth

Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, usually from an ore body, lode, vein, seam, reef or placer deposit. These deposits form a mineralized package that is of economic interest to the miner.

Prevention is by using water that does not contain high levels of arsenic. [1] This may be achieved by the use of special filters or using rainwater. [1] There is not good evidence to support specific treatments for long-term poisoning. [1] For acute poisonings treating dehydration is important. [4] Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) or dimercaptopropane sulfonate (DMPS) may be used while dimercaprol (BAL) is not recommended. [2] Hemodialysis may also be used. [4]

Rain liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then precipitated

Rain is liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then become heavy enough to fall under gravity. Rain is a major component of the water cycle and is responsible for depositing most of the fresh water on the Earth. It provides suitable conditions for many types of ecosystems, as well as water for hydroelectric power plants and crop irrigation.

Dehydration in physiology, excessive loss of body water

In physiology, dehydration is a deficit of total body water, with an accompanying disruption of metabolic processes. It occurs when free water loss exceeds free water intake, usually due to exercise, disease, or high environmental temperature. Mild dehydration can also be caused by immersion diuresis, which may increase risk of decompression sickness in divers.

Dimercaptosuccinic acid pharmaceutical drug

Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA), also called succimer, is a medication used to treat lead, mercury, and arsenic poisoning. When radiolabeled with technetium-99m, it is used in a number of types of diagnostic testing. A full course is 19 days of medications by mouth. More than two weeks should pass before a second course is given.

Through drinking water, more than 200 million people globally are exposed to higher than safe levels of arsenic. [3] The areas most affected are Bangladesh and West Bengal. [3] Exposure is also more common in people of low income and minorities. [6] Acute poisoning is uncommon. [3] The toxicity of arsenic has been described as far back as 1500 BC in the Ebers papyrus. [7]

Bangladesh Country in South Asia

Bangladesh, officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a sovereign country in South Asia. It shares land borders with India and Myanmar (Burma). The country's maritime territory in the Bay of Bengal is roughly equal to the size of its land area. Bangladesh is the world's eighth most populous country as well as its most densely-populated, to the exclusion of small island nations and city-states. Dhaka is its capital and largest city, followed by Chittagong, which has the country's largest port.

West Bengal State in Eastern India

West Bengal is an Indian state located in the eastern region of the country along the Bay of Bengal. With over 91 million inhabitants, it is India's fourth-most populous state. It has an area of 88,752 km2 (34,267 sq mi). A part of the ethno-linguistic Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent, it borders Bangladesh in the east, and Nepal and Bhutan in the north. It also borders the Indian states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Sikkim, and Assam. The state capital is Kolkata (Calcutta), the seventh-largest city in India, and center of the third-largest metropolitan area in the country. As for geography, West Bengal includes the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region, the Ganges delta, the Rarh region, and the coastal Sundarbans. The main ethnic group are the Bengalis, with Bengali Hindus forming the demographic majority.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of arsenic poisoning begin with headaches, confusion, severe diarrhea, and drowsiness. As the poisoning develops, convulsions and changes in fingernail pigmentation called leukonychia striata (Mees's lines, or Aldrich-Mees's lines) may occur. [8] When the poisoning becomes acute, symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, vomiting blood, blood in the urine, cramping muscles, hair loss, stomach pain, and more convulsions. The organs of the body that are usually affected by arsenic poisoning are the lungs, skin, kidneys, and liver. [9] The final result of arsenic poisoning is coma and death. [10]

Headache pain in the head or neck

Headache is the symptom of pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. It occurs in migraines, tension-type headaches, and cluster headaches. Frequent headaches can affect relationships and employment. There is also an increased risk of depression in those with severe headaches.

In medicine confusion is the quality or state of being bewildered or unclear. The term "acute mental confusion" is often used interchangeably with delirium in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems and the Medical Subject Headings publications to describe the pathology. These refer to the loss of orientation, or the ability to place oneself correctly in the world by time, location and personal identity. Mental confusion is sometimes accompanied by disordered consciousness and memory loss. The term is from Latin confusĭo, -ōnis, from confundere: "to pour together;" "to mingle together;" "to confuse".

Diarrhea Loose or liquid bowel movements

Diarrhea, also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having at least three loose, liquid, or watery bowel movements each day. It often lasts for a few days and can result in dehydration due to fluid loss. Signs of dehydration often begin with loss of the normal stretchiness of the skin and irritable behaviour. This can progress to decreased urination, loss of skin color, a fast heart rate, and a decrease in responsiveness as it becomes more severe. Loose but non-watery stools in babies who are exclusively breastfed, however, are normal.

Arsenic is related to heart disease [11] (hypertension-related cardiovascular disease), cancer, [12] stroke [13] (cerebrovascular diseases), chronic lower respiratory diseases, [14] and diabetes. [15] [16] Skin effects can include skin cancer in the long-term but often prior to skin cancer are different skin lesions. [5] Other effects may include darkening of skin and thickening of skin. [17]

Cardiovascular disease class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels. CVD includes coronary artery diseases (CAD) such as angina and myocardial infarction. Other CVDs include stroke, heart failure, hypertensive heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, cardiomyopathy, heart arrhythmia, congenital heart disease, valvular heart disease, carditis, aortic aneurysms, peripheral artery disease, thromboembolic disease, and venous thrombosis.

Cancer disease of uncontrolled, unregulated and abnormal cell growth

Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. These contrast with benign tumors, which do not spread. Possible signs and symptoms include a lump, abnormal bleeding, prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss and a change in bowel movements. While these symptoms may indicate cancer, they can also have other causes. Over 100 types of cancers affect humans.

Stroke Medical condition where poor blood flow to the brain causes cell death

A stroke is a medical condition in which poor blood flow to the brain results in cell death. There are two main types of stroke: ischemic, due to lack of blood flow, and hemorrhagic, due to bleeding. Both result in parts of the brain not functioning properly. Signs and symptoms of a stroke may include an inability to move or feel on one side of the body, problems understanding or speaking, dizziness, or loss of vision to one side. Signs and symptoms often appear soon after the stroke has occurred. If symptoms last less than one or two hours it is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke may also be associated with a severe headache. The symptoms of a stroke can be permanent. Long-term complications may include pneumonia or loss of bladder control.

Chronic exposure to arsenic is related to[ clarification needed ] vitamin A deficiency, which is related to heart disease and night blindness. [18] The acute minimal lethal dose of arsenic in adults is estimated to be 70 to 200 mg or 1 mg/kg/day. [19]

Cancer

Arsenic increases the risk of cancer. [20] Exposure is related to skin, lung, liver, and kidney cancer among others. [1]

Its comutagenic effects may be explained by interference with base and nucleotide excision repair, eventually through interaction with zinc finger structures. [21] Dimethylarsinic acid, DMA(V), caused DNA single strand breaks resulting from inhibition of repair enzymes at levels of 5 to 100 mM in human epithelial type II cells. [22] [23]

MMA(III) and DMA(III) were also shown to be directly genotoxic by effectuating scissions in supercoiled ΦX174 DNA. [24] Increased arsenic exposure is associated with an increased frequency of chromosomal aberrations, [25] micronuclei [26] [27] and sister-chromatid exchanges. An explanation for chromosomal aberrations is the sensitivity of the protein tubulin and the mitotic spindle to arsenic. Histological observations confirm effects on cellular integrity, shape and locomotion. [28]

DMA(III) is able to form reactive oxygen species (ROS) by reaction with molecular oxygen. Resulting metabolites are the dimethylarsenic radical and the dimethylarsenic peroxyl radical. [29] Both DMA(III) and DMA(V) were shown to release iron from horse spleen as well as from human liver ferritin if ascorbic acid was administered simultaneously. Thus, formation of ROS can be promoted. [30] Moreover, arsenic could cause oxidative stress by depleting the cell's antioxidants, especially the ones containing thiol groups. The accumulation of ROS like the cited above and hydroxyl radicals, superoxide radicals and hydrogen peroxides causes aberrant gene expression at low concentrations and lesions of lipids, proteins and DNA in higher concentrations which eventually lead to cellular death. In a rat animal model, urine levels of 8-hydroxy-2’-desoxyguanosine (as a biomarker of ROS DNA damage) were measured after treatment with DMA(V). In comparison to control levels, they turned out to be significantly increased. [31] This theory is further supported by a cross-sectional study which found elevated mean serum lipid peroxides (LPO) in the As exposed individuals which correlated with blood levels of inorganic arsenic and methylated metabolites and inversely correlated with nonprotein sulfhydryl (NPSH) levels in whole blood. [32] Another study found an association of As levels in whole blood with the level of reactive oxidants in plasma and an inverse relationship with plasma antioxidants. [33] A finding of the latter study indicates that methylation might in fact be a detoxification pathway with regard to oxidative stress: the results showed that the lower the As methylation capacity was, the lower the level of plasma antioxidant capacity. As reviewed by Kitchin (2001), the oxidative stress theory provides an explanation for the preferred tumor sites connected with arsenic exposure. [34] Considering that a high partial pressure of oxygen is present in lungs and DMA(III) is excreted in gaseous state via the lungs this seems to be a plausible mechanism for special vulnerability. The fact that DMA is produced by methylation in the liver, excreted via the kidneys and latter on stored in the bladder accounts for the other tumor localizations.

Regarding DNA methylation, some studies suggest interaction of As with methyltransferases which leads to an inactivation of tumor suppressor genes through hypermethylation, others state that hypomethylation might occur due to a lack of SAM resulting in aberrant gene activation. [35] An experiment by Zhong et al. (2001) with arsenite-exposed human lung A549, kidney UOK123, UOK109 and UOK121 cells isolated eight different DNA fragments by methylation-sensitive arbitrarily primed PCR. [36] It turned out that six of the fragments were hyper- and two of them were hypomethylated. [36] Higher levels of DNA methltransferase mRNA and enzyme activity were found. [36]

Kitchin (2001) proposed a model of altered growth factors which lead to cell proliferation and thus to carcinogenesis. [34] From observations, it is known that chronic low-dose arsenic poisoning can lead to increased tolerance to its acute toxicity. [20] [37] MRP1-overexpressing lung tumor GLC4/Sb30 cells poorly accumulate arsenite and arsenate. This is mediated through MRP-1 dependent efflux. [38] The efflux requires GSH, but no As-GSH complex formation. [39]

Although many mechanisms have been proposed, no definite model can be given for the mechanisms of chronic arsenic poisoning. The prevailing events of toxicity and carcinogenicity might be quite tissue-specific. Current consensus on the mode of carcinogenesis is that it acts primarily as a tumor promoter. Its co-carcinogenicity has been demonstrated in several models. However, the finding of several studies that chronically arsenic-exposed Andean populations (as most extremely exposed to UV-light) do not develop skin cancer with chronic arsenic exposure, is puzzling. [40]

Causes

Organic arsenic is less harmful than inorganic arsenic. Seafood is a common source of the less toxic organic arsenic in the form of arsenobetaine. The arsenic reported in 2012 in fruit juice and rice by Consumer Reports was primarily inorganic arsenic. [41] [42] Because of its high toxicity, arsenic is seldom used in the Western world, although in Asia it is still a popular pesticide. Arsenic is mainly encountered occupationally in the smelting of zinc and copper ores.

Drinking water

Arsenic is naturally found in groundwater and presents serious health threats when high amounts exist. [43] Chronic arsenic poisoning results from drinking contaminated well water over a long period of time. Many aquifers contain high concentration of arsenic salts. [44] The World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines for drinking water quality established in 1993 a provisional guideline value of 0.01 mg/L (10 parts per billion) for maximum contaminant levels of arsenic in drinking water. [45] This recommendation was established based on the limit of detection for most laboratories' testing equipment at the time of publication of the WHO water quality guidelines. More recent findings show that consumption of water with levels as low as 0.00017 mg/L (0.17 parts per billion) over long periods of time can lead to arsenicosis. [46] [47]

From a 1988 study in China, the US protection agency quantified the lifetime exposure of arsenic in drinking water at concentrations of 0.0017 mg/L (1.7 ppb), 0.00017 mg/L, and 0.000017 mg/L are associated with a lifetime skin cancer risk of 1 in 10,000, 1 in 100,000, and 1 in 1,000,000 respectively. WHO asserts that a water level of 0.01 mg/L (10 ppb) poses a risk of 6 in 10000 chance of lifetime skin cancer risk and contends that this level of risk is acceptable. [48]

One of the worst incidents of arsenic poisoning via well water occurred in Bangladesh, which the World Health Organization called the "largest mass poisoning of a population in history" [49] recognized as a major public health concern. The contamination in the Ganga- Brahmaputra fluvial plains in India and Padma-Meghna fluvial plains in Bangladesh demonstrated adverse impacts on human health. [50]

Mining techniques such as hydraulic fracturing may mobilize arsenic in groundwater and aquifers due to enhanced methane transport and resulting changes in redox conditions, [51] and inject fluid containing additional arsenic. [52]

Groundwater

In the US, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the median groundwater concentration is 1 μg/L or less, although some groundwater aquifers, particularly in the western United States, can contain much higher levels. For example, median levels in Nevada were about 8 μg/L [53] but levels of naturally occurring arsenic as high as 1000 μg/L have been measured in the United States in drinking water. [54]

Geothermally active zones occur at hotspots where mantle-derived plumes ascend, such as in Hawaii and Yellowstone National Park, USA. Arsenic is an incompatible element ( do not fit easily into the lattices of common rock-forming minerals). Concentrations of arsenic are high mainly in geothermal waters that leach continental rocks. Arsenic in hot geothermal fluids was shown to be derived mainly from leaching of host rocks at Yellowstone National Park, in Wyoming, USA, rather than from magmas. [55] [56]

In the western USA, there are As (arsenic) inputs to groundwater and surface water from geothermal fluids in and near Yellowstone National Park, [57] and in other western mineralized areas. [58] Groundwater associated with volcanics in California contain As at concentrations ranging up to 48,000 μg/L, with As-bearing sulfide minerals as the main source. [59] Geothermal waters on Dominica in the Lesser Antilles also contain concentrations of As >50 μg/L. [60] [56]

In general, because arsenic is an incompatible element, it accumulates in differentiated magmas, [57] and in other western mineralized areas. [58] Weathering of pegmatite veins in Connecticut, USA, was thought to contribute As to groundwater. [56]

In Pennsylvania, As concentrations in water discharging from abandoned anthracite mines ranged from <0.03 to 15 μg/L and from abandoned bituminous mines, from 0.10 to 64 μg/L, with 10% of samples exceeding the United States Environmental Protection Agency MLC of 10 μg/L/ [61] [56]

In Wisconsin, As concentrations of water in sandstone and dolomite aquifers were as high as 100 μg/L. Oxidation of pyrite hosted by these formations was the likely source of the As. [62] [56]

In the Piedmont of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, groundwater in Mesozoic age aquifers contains elevated levels of As—domestic well waters from Pennsylvania contained up to 65 μg/L, [63] whereas in New Jersey the highest concentration measured recently was 215 μg/L. [64] [56]

Food

In the United States, Schoof et al. (1999) [65] estimated an average adult intake of 3.2 μg/day, with a range of 1–20 μg/day. Estimates for children were similar. [66]

Food also contains many organic arsenic compounds. The key organic arsenic compounds that can be routinely found in food (depending on food type) include monomethylarsonic acid (MMAsV), Dimethylearsenoicacid (DMAsV ), arsenobetaine, arsenocholine, arsenosugars, and arsenolipids. DMAsV or MMAsV can be found in various types of fin fish, crabs, and mollusks, but often at very low levels. [67]

Arsenobetaine is the major form of arsenic in marine animals, and, by all accounts, it is considered a compound that is nontoxic under conditions of human consumption. Arsenocholine, which is mainly found in shrimp, is chemically similar to arsenobetaine, and is considered to be “essentially nontoxic”. [68] Although arsenobetaine is little studied, available information indicates it is not mutagenic, immunotoxic, or embryotoxic. [69]

Arsenosugars and arsenolipids have recently been identified. Exposure to these compounds and toxicological implications are currently being studied. Arsenosugars are detected mainly in seaweed but are also found to a lesser extent in marine mollusks. [70] Studies addressing arsenosugar toxicity, however, have largely been limited to in vitro studies, which show that arsenosugars are significantly less toxic than both inorganic arsenic and trivalent methylated arsenic metabolites. [71]

It has been found that rice is particularly susceptible to accumulation of arsenic from soil. [72] Rice grown in the U.S. has an average 260 ppb of arsenic, according to a study; but U.S. arsenic intake remains far below World Health Organization-recommended limits. [73] China has set a standard for arsenic limits in food (150 ppb), [74] as levels in rice exceed those in water. [75]

Arsenic is a ubiquitous element present in American drinking water. [76] In the United States, levels of arsenic that are above natural levels, but still well below danger levels set in federal safety standards, have been detected in commercially raised chickens. [77] The source of the arsenic appears to be the feed additives roxarsone and nitarsone, which are used to control the parasitic infection coccidiosis as well as to increase weight and skin coloring of the poultry. [78] [79]

High levels of inorganic arsenic were reportedly found in 83 California wines in 2015. [80]

Soil

Exposure to arsenic in soil can occur through multiple pathways. Compared with the intake of naturally occurring arsenic from water and the diet, soil arsenic constitutes only a small fraction of intake. [81]

Air

The European Commission (2000) reports that levels of arsenic in air range 0–1 ng/m3 in remote areas, 0.2–1.5 ng/m3 in rural areas, 0.5–3 ng/m3 in urban areas, and up to about 50 ng/m3 in the vicinity of industrial sites. Based on these data, the European Commission (2000) estimated that in relation to food, cigarette smoking, water, and soil, air contributes less than 1% of total arsenic exposure.

Pesticides

The use of lead arsenate pesticides has been effectively eliminated for over 50 years. However, because of the pesticide's environmental persistence, it is estimated that millions of acres of land are still contaminated with lead arsenate residues. This presents a potentially significant public health concern in some areas of the United States (e.g., New Jersey, Washington, and Wisconsin), where large areas of land used historically as orchards have been converted into residential developments. [82]

Some modern uses of arsenic-based pesticides still exist. Chromated copper arsenate (CCA) has been registered for use in the United States since the 1940s as a wood preservative, protecting wood from insects and microbial agents. In 2003, CCA manufacturers instituted a voluntary recall of residential uses of CCA-treated wood. the EPA 2008 final report stated that CCA is still approved for use in nonresidential applications, such as in marine facilities (pilings and structures), utility poles, and sand highway structures.

Copper smelting

Exposure studies in the copper smelting industry are much more extensive and have established definitive links between arsenic, a by-product of copper smelting, and lung cancer via inhalation. [83] Dermal and neurological effects were also increased in some of these studies. [84] Although as time went on, occupational controls became more stringent and workers were exposed to reduced arsenic concentrations, the arsenic exposures measured from these studies ranged from about 0.05 to 0.3 mg/m3 and are significantly higher than airborne environmental exposures to arsenic (which range from 0 to 0.000003 mg/m3). [85]

Pathophysiology

Arsenic interferes with cellular longevity by allosteric inhibition of an essential metabolic enzyme pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) complex, which catalyzes the oxidation of pyruvate to acetyl-CoA by NAD +. With the enzyme inhibited, the energy system of the cell is disrupted resulting in cellular apoptosis. Biochemically, arsenic prevents use of thiamine resulting in a clinical picture resembling thiamine deficiency. Poisoning with arsenic can raise lactate levels and lead to lactic acidosis. Low potassium levels in the cells increases the risk of experiencing a life-threatening heart rhythm problem from arsenic trioxide.[ citation needed ] Arsenic in cells clearly stimulates the production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). When the H2O2 reacts with certain metals such as iron or manganese it produces a highly reactive hydroxyl radical. Inorganic arsenic trioxide found in ground water particularly affects voltage-gated potassium channels, [86] disrupting cellular electrolytic function resulting in neurological disturbances, cardiovascular episodes such as prolonged QT interval, neutropenia, high blood pressure, [87] central nervous system dysfunction, anemia, and death.

Arsenic exposure plays a key role in the pathogenesis of vascular endothelial dysfunction as it inactivates endothelial nitric oxide synthase, leading to reduction in the generation and bioavailability of nitric oxide. In addition, the chronic arsenic exposure induces high oxidative stress, which may affect the structure and function of cardiovascular system. Further, the arsenic exposure has been noted to induce atherosclerosis by increasing the platelet aggregation and reducing fibrinolysis. Moreover, arsenic exposure may cause arrhythmia by increasing the QT interval and accelerating the cellular calcium overload. The chronic exposure to arsenic upregulates the expression of tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule and vascular endothelial growth factor to induce cardiovascular pathogenesis.

Pitchai Balakumar and Jagdeep Kaur, "Arsenic Exposure and Cardiovascular Disorders: An Overview", Cardiovascular Toxicology , December 2009 [88]

Tissue culture studies have shown that arsenic compounds block both IKr and Iks channels and, at the same time, activates IK-ATP channels. Arsenic compounds also disrupt ATP production through several mechanisms. At the level of the citric acid cycle, arsenic inhibits pyruvate dehydrogenase and by competing with phosphate it uncouples oxidative phosphorylation, thus inhibiting energy-linked reduction of NAD+, mitochondrial respiration, and ATP synthesis. Hydrogen peroxide production is also increased, which might form reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress. These metabolic interferences lead to death from multi-system organ failure, probably from necrotic cell death, not apoptosis. A post mortem reveals brick red colored mucosa, due to severe hemorrhage. Although arsenic causes toxicity, it can also play a protective role. [89]

Mechanism

Arsenite inhibits not only the formation of acetyl-CoA but also the enzyme succinic dehydrogenase. Arsenate can replace phosphate in many reactions. It is able to form Glc-6-Arsenate in vitro; therefore it has been argued that hexokinase could be inhibited. [90] (Eventually this may be a mechanism leading to muscle weakness in chronic arsenic poisoning.) In the glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase reaction arsenate attacks the enzyme-bound thioester. The formed 1-arseno-3-phosphoglycerate is unstable and hydrolyzes spontaneously. Thus, ATP formation in Glycolysis is inhibited while bypassing the phosphoglycerate kinase reaction. (Moreover, the formation of 2,3-bisphosphoglycerate in erythrocytes might be affected, followed by a higher oxygen affinity of hemoglobin and subsequently enhanced cyanosis) As shown by Gresser (1981), submitochondrial particles synthesize Adenosine-5’-diphosphate-arsenate from ADP and arsenate in presence of succinate. Thus, by a variety of mechanisms arsenate leads to an impairment of cell respiration and subsequently diminished ATP formation. [91] This is consistent with observed ATP depletion of exposed cells and histopathological findings of mitochondrial and cell swelling, glycogen depletion in liver cells and fatty change in liver, heart and kidney.

Experiments demonstrated enhanced arterial thrombosis in a rat animal model, elevations of serotonin levels, thromboxane A[2] and adhesion proteins in platelets, while human platelets showed similar responses. [92] The effect on vascular endothelium may eventually be mediated by the arsenic-induced formation of nitric oxide. It was demonstrated that +3 As concentrations substantially lower than concentrations required for inhibition of the lysosomal protease cathepsin L in B cell line TA3 were sufficient to trigger apoptosis in the same B cell line, while the latter could be a mechanism mediating immunosuppressive effects. [93]

Kinetics

The two forms of inorganic arsenic, reduced (trivalent As(III)) and oxidized (pentavalent As(V)), can be absorbed, and accumulated in tissues and body fluids. [94] In the liver, the metabolism of arsenic involves enzymatic and non-enzymatic methylation, the most frequently excreted metabolite (≥ 90%) in the urine of mammals is dimethylarsinic acid or cacodylic acid, DMA(V). [95] Dimethylarsenic acid is also known as Agent Blue and was used as herbicide in the American war in Vietnam.

In humans inorganic arsenic is reduced nonenzymatically from pentoxide to trioxide, using glutathione (GSH) or it is mediated by enzymes. Reduction of arsenic pentoxide to arsenic trioxide increases its toxicity and bio availability, Methylation occurs through methyltransferase enzymes. S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) may serve as methyl donor. Various pathways are used, the principal route being dependent on the current environment of the cell. [96] Resulting metabolites are monomethylarsonous acid, MMA(III), and dimethylarsinous acid, DMA(III).

Methylation had been regarded as a detoxification process, [ by whom? ] but reduction from +5 As to +3 As may be considered as a bioactivation [ clarification needed ] instead. [97] Another suggestion is that methylation might be a detoxification if "As[III] intermediates are not permitted to accumulate" because the pentavalent organoarsenics have a lower affinity to thiol groups than inorganic pentavalent arsenics. [96] Gebel (2002) stated that methylation is a detoxification through accelerated excretion. [98] With regard to carcinogenicity it has been suggested that methylation should be regarded as a toxification. [34] [99] [100]

Arsenic, especially +3 As, binds to single, but with higher affinity to vicinal sulfhydryl groups, thus reacts with a variety of proteins and inhibits their activity. It was also proposed that binding of arsenite at nonessential sites might contribute to detoxification. [101] Arsenite inhibits members of the disulfide oxidoreductase family like glutathione reductase [102] and thioredoxin reductase. [103]

The remaining unbound arsenic (≤ 10%) accumulates in cells, which over time may lead to skin, bladder, kidney, liver, lung, and prostate cancers. [95] Other forms of arsenic toxicity in humans have been observed in blood, bone marrow, cardiac, central nervous system, gastrointestinal, gonadal, kidney, liver, pancreatic, and skin tissues. [95]

Heat shock response

Another aspect is the similarity of arsenic effects to the heat shock response. Short-term arsenic exposure has effects on signal transduction inducing heat shock proteins with masses of 27,60,70,72,90,110 kDa as well as metallotionein, ubiquitin, mitogen-activated [MAP] kinases, extracellular regulated kinase [ERK], c-jun terminal kinases [JNK] and p38. [28] [104] Via JNK and p38 it activates c-fos, c-jun and egr-1 which are usually activated by growth factors and cytokines. [28] [105] [106] The effects are largely dependent on the dosing regime and may be as well inversed.

As shown by some experiments reviewed by Del Razo (2001), ROS induced by low levels of inorganic arsenic increase the transcription and the activity of the activator protein 1 (AP-1) and the nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) (maybe enhanced by elevated MAPK levels), which results in c-fos/c-jun activation, over-secretion of pro-inflammatory and growth promoting cytokines stimulating cell proliferation. [104] [107] Germolec et al. (1996) found an increased cytokine expression and cell proliferation in skin biopsies from individuals chronically exposed to arsenic-contaminated drinking water. [108]

Increased AP-1 and NF-κB obviously also result in an up-regulation of mdm2 protein, which decreases p53 protein levels. [109] Thus, taking into account p53's function, a lack of it could cause a faster accumulation of mutations contributing to carcinogenesis. However, high levels of inorganic arsenic inhibit NF-κB activation and cell proliferation. An experiment of Hu et al. (2002) demonstrated increased binding activity of AP-1 and NF-κB after acute (24 h) exposure to +3 sodium arsenite, whereas long-term exposure (10–12 weeks) yielded the opposite result. [110] The authors conclude that the former may be interpreted as a defense response while the latter could lead to carcinogenesis. [110] As the contradicting findings and connected mechanistic hypotheses indicate, there is a difference in acute and chronic effects of arsenic on signal transduction which is not clearly understood yet.[ citation needed ]

Oxidative stress

Studies have demonstrated that the oxidative stress generated by arsenic may disrupt the signal transduction pathways of the nuclear transcriptional factors PPAR's, AP-1, and NF-κB, [95] [110] [111] as well as the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-8 and TNF-α. [95] [110] [111] [112] [113] [114] [115] [116] The interference of oxidative stress with signal transduction pathways may affect physiological processes associated with cell growth, metabolic syndrome X, glucose homeostasis, lipid metabolism, obesity, insulin resistance, inflammation, and diabetes-2. [117] [118] [119] Recent scientific evidence has elucidated the physiological roles of the PPAR's in the ω- hydroxylation of fatty acids and the inhibition of pro-inflammatory transcription factors (NF-κB and AP-1), pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1, -6, -8, -12, and TNF-α), cell4 adhesion molecules (ICAM-1 and VCAM-1), inducible nitric oxide synthase, proinflammatory nitric oxide (NO), and anti-apoptotic factors. [95] [112] [117] [119] [120]

Epidemiological studies have suggested a correlation between chronic consumption of drinking water contaminated with arsenic and the incidence of Type 2-diabetes. [95] The human liver after exposure to therapeutic drugs may exhibit hepatic non-cirrhotic portal hypertension, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. [95] However, the literature provides insufficient scientific evidence to show cause and effect between arsenic and the onset of diabetes mellitus Type 2. [95]

Diagnosis

Arsenic may be measured in blood or urine to monitor excessive environmental or occupational exposure, confirm a diagnosis of poisoning in hospitalized victims or to assist in the forensic investigation in a case of fatal over dosage. Some analytical techniques are capable of distinguishing organic from inorganic forms of the element. Organic arsenic compounds tend to be eliminated in the urine in unchanged form, while inorganic forms are largely converted to organic arsenic compounds in the body prior to urinary excretion. The current biological exposure index for U.S. workers of 35 µg/L total urinary arsenic may easily be exceeded by a healthy person eating a seafood meal. [121]

Tests are available to diagnose poisoning by measuring arsenic in blood, urine, hair, and fingernails. The urine test is the most reliable test for arsenic exposure within the last few days. Urine testing needs to be done within 24–48 hours for an accurate analysis of an acute exposure. Tests on hair and fingernails can measure exposure to high levels of arsenic over the past 6–12 months. These tests can determine if one has been exposed to above-average levels of arsenic. They cannot predict, however, whether the arsenic levels in the body will affect health. [122] Chronic arsenic exposure can remain in the body systems for a longer period of time than a shorter term or more isolated exposure and can be detected in a longer time frame after the introduction of the arsenic, important in trying to determine the source of the exposure.

Hair is a potential bioindicator for arsenic exposure due to its ability to store trace elements from blood. Incorporated elements maintain their position during growth of hair. Thus for a temporal estimation of exposure, an assay of hair composition needs to be carried out with a single hair which is not possible with older techniques requiring homogenization and dissolution of several strands of hair. This type of biomonitoring has been achieved with newer microanalytical techniques like Synchrotron radiation based X ray fluorescence (SXRF) spectroscopy and Microparticle induced X ray emission (PIXE).The highly focused and intense beams study small spots on biological samples allowing analysis to micro level along with the chemical speciation. In a study, this method has been used to follow arsenic level before, during and after treatment with Arsenious oxide in patients with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia. [123]

Treatment

Chelation

Dimercaprol and dimercaptosuccinic acid are chelating agents that sequester the arsenic away from blood proteins and are used in treating acute arsenic poisoning. The most important side effect is hypertension. Dimercaprol is considerably more toxic than succimer.[ citation needed ] [124] DMSA monoesters, e.g. MiADMSA, are promising antidotes for arsenic poisoning. [125]

Nutrition

Supplemental potassium decreases the risk of experiencing a life-threatening heart rhythm problem from arsenic trioxide. [126]

History

An 1889 newspaper advertisement for "arsenic complexion wafers". Arsenic was known to be poisonous during the Victorian era. 18891109 Arsenic complexion wafers - Helena Independent.png
An 1889 newspaper advertisement for "arsenic complexion wafers". Arsenic was known to be poisonous during the Victorian era.

Beginning in about 3000 BCE arsenic was mined and added to copper in the alloying of bronze, but the adverse health effects of working with arsenic led to it being being abandoned when a viable alternative, tin, was discovered. [129]

In addition to its presence as a poison, for centuries arsenic was used medicinally. It has been used for over 2,400 years as a part of traditional Chinese medicine. [130] In the western world, arsenic compounds, such as salvarsan, were used extensively to treat syphilis before penicillin was introduced. It was eventually replaced as a therapeutic agent by sulfa drugs and then by other antibiotics. Arsenic was also an ingredient in many tonics (or "patent medicines").

In addition, during the Elizabethan era, some women used a mixture of vinegar, chalk, and arsenic applied topically to whiten their skin. This use of arsenic was intended to prevent aging and creasing of the skin, but some arsenic was inevitably absorbed into the blood stream.[ citation needed ]

During the Victorian era (late 19th Century) in the United States, U.S. newspapers advertised "arsenic complexion wafers" that promised to facial blemishes such as moles and pimples. [128]

Some pigments, most notably the popular Emerald Green (known also under several other names), were based on arsenic compounds. Overexposure to these pigments was a frequent cause of accidental poisoning of artists and craftsmen.

Arsenic became a favored method for murder of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, particularly among ruling classes in Italy allegedly. Because the symptoms are similar to those of cholera, which was common at the time, arsenic poisoning often went undetected. [131] :63 By the 19th century, it had acquired the nickname "inheritance powder," perhaps because impatient heirs were known or suspected to use it to ensure or accelerate their inheritances. [131] :21 It was also a common murder technique in the 19th century in domestic violence situations, such as the case of Rebecca Copin, who attempted to poison her husband by "putting arsenic in his coffee". [132]

In ancient Korea, and particularly in Joseon Dynasty, arsenic-sulfur compounds have been used as a major ingredient of sayak (사약; 賜藥), which was a poison cocktail used in capital punishment of high-profile political figures and members of the royal family. [133]   Due to social and political prominence of the condemned, many of these events were well-documented, often in the Annals of Joseon Dynasty; they are sometimes portrayed in historical television miniseries because of their dramatic nature. [134]

Legislation

In U.S 1975, under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), U.S. Environment Protection Agency determined the National Interim Primary Drinking Water Regulation levels of arsenic (inorganic contaminant - IOCs) to be 0.05 mg/L (50 parts per billion - ppb). [135]

Throughout the years, many studies reported dose-dependent effects of arsenic in drinking water and skin cancer. In other to prevent new cases and death from cancerous and non-cancerous diseases, SDWA directed EPA to revise arsenic's levels and specified the maximum contaminant level (MCL). MCLs are set as close to the health goals as possible, considering cost, benefits and the ability of public water systems to detect and remove contaminants using suitable treatment technologies. [135] [136]

In 2001, EPA adopted a lower standard of MCL 0.01 mg/L (10 ppb) for arsenic in drinking water that applies to both community water systems and non-transient non-community water systems. [135]

In some other countries, when developing national drinking water standards based on the guideline values, it is necessary to take account of a variety of geographical, socio-economic, dietary and other conditions affecting potential exposure. These factors lead to national standards that differ appreciably from the guideline values. That is the case of countries such as India and Bangladesh, where the permissible limit of arsenic in absence of an alternative source of water is 0.05 mg/L. [45] [137]

Challenges to implementation

Arsenic removal technologies are traditional treatment processes which have been tailored to improve removal of arsenic from drinking water. Although some of the removal processes, such as precipitative processes, adsorption processes, ion exchange processes, and separation (membrane) processes, may be technically feasible, their cost may be prohibitive. [135]

For underdeveloped countries, the challenge is finding the means to fund such technologies. EPA, for example, has estimated the total national annualized cost of treatment, monitoring, reporting, record keeping, and administration for reinforce the MCL rule to be approximately $181 million. Most of the cost is due to the installation and operation of the treatment technologies needed to reduce arsenic in public water system. [138]

Pregnancy

Arsenic exposure through groundwater is highly concerning throughout the perinatal period. Pregnant women are a high-risk population because not only are the mothers at risk for adverse outcomes, but in-utero exposure also poses health risks to the infant. There is a dose-dependent relationship between maternal exposure to arsenic and infant mortality, meaning that infants born to women exposed to higher concentrations, or exposed for longer periods of time, have a higher mortality rate. [139]

Studies have shown that ingesting arsenic through groundwater during pregnancy poses dangers to the mother including, but not limited to abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, skin pigmentation changes, and cancer. [140] Research has also demonstrated that arsenic exposure also causes low birth weight, low birth size, infant mortality, and a variety of other outcomes in infants. [140] [141] Some of these effects, like lower birth-rate and size may be due to the effects of arsenic on maternal weight gain during pregnancy. [141]

See also

Related Research Articles

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3
and nitrite, NO
2
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Realgar wine or xionghuang wine (Chinese: 雄黃酒, xiónghuángjiǔ) is a Chinese alcoholic drink that consists of Chinese cereal wine (huangjiu, "yellow wine") dosed with powdered realgar, a yellow-orange arsenic sulfide mineral (As4S4). It is traditionally consumed as part of the Dragon Boat Festival at the height of summer.

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