Elevated levels of plasma Big endothelin-1 and its relation to hypertension and skin lesions in individuals exposed to arsenic

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Chronic arsenic (As) exposure affects the endothelial system causing several diseases. Big endothelin-1 (Big ET-1), the biological precursor of endothelin-1 (ET-1) is a more accurate indicator of the degree of activation of the endothelial system. Effect of As exposure on the plasma Big ET-1 levels and its physiological implications have not yet been documented. We evaluated plasma Big ET-1 levels and their relation to hypertension and skin lesions in As exposed individuals in Bangladesh. A total of 304 study subjects from the As-endemic and non-endemic areas in Bangladesh were recruited for this study. As concentrations in water, hair and nails were measured by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectroscopy (ICP-MS). The plasma Big ET-1 levels were measured using a one-step sandwich enzyme immunoassay kit. Significant increase in Big ET-1 levels were observed with the increasing concentrations of As in drinking water, hair and nails. Further, before and after adjusting with different covariates, plasma Big ET-1 levels were found to be significantly associated with the water, hair and nail As concentrations of the study subjects. Big ET-1 levels were also higher in the higher exposure groups compared to the lowest (reference) group. Interestingly, we observed that Big ET-1 levels were significantly higher in the hypertensive and skin lesion groups compared to the normotensive and without skin lesion counterpart, respectively of the study subjects in As-endemic areas. Thus, this study demonstrated a novel dose–response relationship between As exposure and plasma Big ET-1 levels indicating the possible involvement of plasma Big ET-1 levels in As-induced hypertension and skin lesions.

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