A comparative study of the sub-chronic toxic effects of three organic arsenical compounds on the urothelium in F344 rats; gender-based differences in response

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Epidemiological studies indicated that human arsenic exposure can induce urinary bladder cancer. Methylation of inorganic arsenic can generate more reactive and toxic organic arsenical species. In this regard, it was recently reported that the methylated arsenical metabolite, dimethylarsinic acid [DMA(V)], induced urinary bladder tumors in rats. However, other methylated metabolites, like monomethylarsonic acid [MMA(V)] and trimethylarsine oxide (TMAO) were not carcinogenic to the urinary bladder. In order to compare the early effects of DMA(V), MMA(V), and TMAO on the urinary bladder transitional cell epithelium at the scanning electron microscope (SEM) level, we investigated the sub-chronic (13 weeks) toxicological effects of MMA(V) (187 ppm), DMA(V) (184 ppm), TMAO (182 ppm) given in the drinking water to male and female F344 rats with a focus on the urinary bladder in this study. Obvious pathological changes, including ropy microridges, pitting, increased separation of epithelial cells, exfoliation, and necrosis, were found in the urinary bladders of both sexes, but particularly in females receiving carcinogenic doses of DMA(V). Urine arsenical metabolic differences were found between males and females, with levels of MMA(III), a potential genotoxic form, higher in females treated with DMA(V) than in males. Thus, this study provides clear evidence that DMA(V) is more toxic to the female urinary bladder, in accord with sensitivity to carcinogenesis. Important gender-related metabolic differences including enhanced presentation of MMA(III) to the urothelial cells might possibly account for heightened sensitivity in females. However, the potential carcinogenic effects of MMA(III) need to be further elucidated.

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