Interspecies differences in metabolism of arsenic by cultured primary hepatocytes


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Abstract

Biomethylation is the major pathway for the metabolism of inorganic arsenic (iAs) in many mammalian species, including the human. However, significant interspecies differences have been reported in the rate of in vivo metabolism of iAs and in yields of iAs metabolites found in urine. Liver is considered the primary site for the methylation of iAs and arsenic (+3 oxidation state) methyltransferase (As3mt) is the key enzyme in this pathway. Thus, the As3mt-catalyzed methylation of iAs in the liver determines in part the rate and the pattern of iAs metabolism in various species. We examined kinetics and concentration–response patterns for iAs methylation by cultured primary hepatocytes derived from human, rat, mice, dog, rabbit, and rhesus monkey. Hepatocytes were exposed to [73As]arsenite (iAsIII; 0.3, 0.9, 3.0, 9.0 or 30 nmol As/mg protein) for 24 h and radiolabeled metabolites were analyzed in cells and culture media. Hepatocytes from all six species methylated iAsIII to methylarsenic (MAs) and dimethylarsenic (DMAs). Notably, dog, rat and monkey hepatocytes were considerably more efficient methylators of iAsIII than mouse, rabbit or human hepatocytes. The low efficiency of mouse, rabbit and human hepatocytes to methylate iAsIII was associated with inhibition of DMAs production by moderate concentrations of iAsIII and with retention of iAs and MAs in cells. No significant correlations were found between the rate of iAs methylation and the thioredoxin reductase activity or glutathione concentration, two factors that modulate the activity of recombinant As3mt. No associations between the rates of iAs methylation and As3mt protein structures were found for the six species examined. Immunoblot analyses indicate that the superior arsenic methylation capacities of dog, rat and monkey hepatocytes examined in this study may be associated with a higher As3mt expression. However, factors other than As3mt expression may also contribute to the interspecies differences in the hepatocyte capacity to methylate iAs.

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