Effects of Nrf2 deficiency on arsenic metabolism in mice

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Inorganic arsenic (iAs) is a known toxicant and carcinogen. Worldwide arsenic exposure has become a threat to human health. The severity of arsenic toxicity is strongly correlated with the speed of arsenic metabolism (methylation) and clearance. Furthermore, oxidative stress is recognized as a major mechanism for arsenic-induced toxicity. Nuclear factor-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), a key regulator in cellular adaptive antioxidant response, is clearly involved in alleviation of arsenic-induced oxidative damage. Multiple studies demonstrate that Nrf2 deficiency mice are more vulnerable to arsenic-induced intoxication. However, what effect Nrf2 deficiency might have on arsenic metabolism in mice is still unknown. In the present study, we measured the key enzymes involved in arsenic metabolism in Nrf2-WT and Nrf2-KO mice. Our results showed that basal transcript levels of glutathione S-transferase omega 2 (Gsto2) were significantly higher and GST mu 1 (Gstm1) lower in Nrf2-KO mice compared to Nrf2-WT control. Arsenic speciation and methylation rate in liver and urine was then studied in mice treated with 5 mg/kg sodium arsenite for 12 h. Although there were some alterations in arsenic metabolism enzymes between Nrf2-WT and Nrf2-KO mice, the Nrf2 deficiency had no significant effect on arsenic methylation. These results suggest that the Nrf2-KO mice are more sensitive to arsenic than Nrf2-WT mainly because of differences in adaptive antioxidant detoxification capacity rather than arsenic methylation capacity.

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