Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Arsenic - Not The Same For Everyone

June 26, 2005
University Of Arizona
Children with a particular genetic variation metabolize arsenic from drinking water differently than adults with the same variation. The findings have important implications for the safety of drinking water worldwide and the use of arsenic as a cancer drug.

Children with a particular variation in the CYT19 gene metabolize arsenic differently than adults with the same genetic variant, according to a new research report. The findings have important implications for the safety of drinking water worldwide and the use of arsenic as a cancer drug.

Arsenic, a heavy metal found around the globe, including the potable water supplies in many parts of Arizona and the West, has long been known to cause diseases such as circulatory and neurological disorders and cancer, predominantly of the skin, lung and bladder. In the body, arsenic is converted into different compounds, some highly toxic, through a series of biochemical reactions. It finally leaves the body in the urine.

The new research raises the possibility that the risk of developing arsenic-related disease is not the same for everybody because an individual's genetic makeup determines how the toxic metal is metabolized.

"Finding genetic determinants of arsenic metabolism may one day enable us to identify a super-susceptible group of people, and conversely, people who may be relatively resistant to the effects of arsenic," said Walter T. Klimecki, who led the research team. Klimecki is a research assistant professor of medicine at The University of Arizona's Arizona Respiratory Center and member of UA's BIO5 Institute.

The study is published in the current edition of Environmental Health Perspectives. Co-authors on the article are: Maria Mercedes Meza of the Sonora Institute of Technology (Mexico), Lizhi Yu, Yelitza Y. Rodriguez, Mischa Guild and David Thompson of the UA Arizona Respiratory Center and A. Jay Gandolfi of the UA department of pharmacology and toxicology.

The research is part of The University of Arizona's Superfund Basic Research Program, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. The study was also supported by the Sonora Institute of Technology, Mexico.

Studying the distribution of arsenic metabolites in the body is important because they have different toxic potencies, said Klimecki. "Since we know that people carry different versions of DNA sequence for any given gene, we ask, 'Do people with one sequence variant metabolize arsenic differently than people with another sequence variant?'"

Klimecki and his coworkers found that the answer is yes.

The team analyzed arsenic levels in urine samples from 135 individuals from the Yaqui Valley in Sonora, Mexico, who were exposed to drinking water containing arsenic. The study participants ranged from 7 to 79 years in age. The researchers then analyzed DNA samples from the same individuals for variations in three genes known to play roles in arsenic metabolism. When they matched the arsenic levels in the urine samples to the variations in the genes, the researchers saw that the distribution of arsenic metabolites was different in urine samples from people with a certain variation of the CYT19 gene.

At that point, Klimecki's team was in for an unexpected discovery. When the team split up the data into different age groups, it turned out that the association between the particular form of CYT19 and altered urinary arsenic metabolites could only be found in children. Adults carrying the same variant of CYT19 do not metabolize arsenic differently. "Apparently the genetic variation affects arsenic metabolism only during childhood," said Klimecki.

This result could be important for cancer medicine, as arsenic is used as a drug in leukemia therapy. Individual differences in the way arsenic is metabolized could influence the drug's efficiency. "It sounds obvious, but researchers often fall into the trap of assuming that children are just miniature adults," said Klimecki. "Our data really shout out the pitfall in that."


Reference: Developmentally Restricted Genetic Determinants of Human Arsenic Metabolism: Association between Urinary Methylated Arsenic and CYT19 Polymorphisms in Children. Maria Mercedes Meza et al., Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 113, No. 6, June 2005.


Walter Klimecki, 520-626-7470, walt@arc.arizona.edu

Related Web sites:
Walter Klimecki


NIEHS Superfund Basic Research Program

More information on arsenic

Environmental Health Perspectives

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Arizona. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

University Of Arizona. "Arsenic - Not The Same For Everyone." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 June 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050625223204.htm>.
University Of Arizona. (2005, June 26). Arsenic - Not The Same For Everyone. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050625223204.htm
University Of Arizona. "Arsenic - Not The Same For Everyone." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050625223204.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This

More Earth & Climate News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins