Systemic distribution and speciation of diphenylarsinic acid fed to rats

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Diphenylarsinic acid (DPAA) is an environmental degradation product of diphenylarsine chloride or diphenylarsine cyanide, which were chemical warfare agents produced by Japan during the World War II. DPAA is now considered a dangerous environmental pollutant in Kamisu, Japan, where it is suspected of inducing health effects that include articulation disorders (cerebellar ataxia of the extremities and trunk), involuntary movements (myoclonus and tremor), and sleep disorders. In order to elucidate the toxic mechanism of DPAA, we focused on the distribution and metabolism of DPAA in rats. Systemic distribution of DPAA was determined by administering DPAA orally to rats at a single dose of 5.0 mg As/kg body weight, followed by speciation analysis of selected organs and body fluids. Most of the total arsenic burden was recovered in the urine (23% of the dose) and feces (27%), with the distribution in most other organs/tissues being less than 1%. However, compared with the typical distribution of inorganic dietary arsenic, DPAA administration resulted in elevated levels in the brain, testes and pancreas. In contrast to urine, in which DPAA was found mostly in its unmodified form, the tissues and organs contained arsenic that was mostly bound to non-soluble and soluble high molecular weight proteins. These bound arsenic species could be converted back to DPAA after oxidation with H2O2, suggesting that the DPAA bound to proteins had been reduced within the body and was in a trivalent oxidation state. Furthermore, we also detected two unknown arsenic metabolites in rat urine, which were assumed to be hydroxylated arsenic metabolites.

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