Association between arsenic exposure from drinking water and plasma levels of soluble cell adhesion molecules

Environ Health Perspect. 2007 Oct;115(10):1415-20. doi: 10.1289/ehp.10277.


Background: Epidemiologic studies of cardiovascular disease risk factors and appropriate biomarkers in populations exposed to a wide range of arsenic levels are a public health research priority.

Objective: We investigated the relationship between inorganic arsenic exposure from drinking water and plasma levels of soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) and soluble vascular adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1), both markers of endothelial dysfunction and vascular inflammation, in an arsenic-exposed population in Araihazar, Bangladesh.

Methods: The study participants included 115 individuals with arsenic-related skin lesions participating in a 2 x 2 randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of vitamin E and selenium supplementation. Arsenic exposure status and plasma levels of sICAM-1 and sVCAM-1 were assessed at baseline and after 6 months of follow-up.

Results: Baseline well arsenic, a long-term measure of arsenic exposure, was positively associated with baseline levels of both sICAM-1 and sVCAM-1 and with changes in the two markers over time. At baseline, for every 1-mug/L increase in well arsenic there was an increase of 0.10 ng/mL [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.00-0.20] and 0.33 ng/mL (95% CI, 0.15-0.51) in plasma sICAM-1 and sVCAM-1, respectively. Every 1-microg/L increase in well arsenic was associated with a rise of 0.11 ng/mL (95% CI, 0.01-0.22) and 0.17 ng/mL (95% CI, 0.00-0.35) in sICAM-1 and sVCAM-1 from baseline to follow-up, respectively, in spite of recent changes in urinary arsenic as well as vitamin E and selenium supplementation during the study period.

Conclusions: The findings indicate an effect of chronic arsenic exposure from drinking water on vascular inflammation that persists over time and also suggest a potential mechanism underlying the association between arsenic exposure and cardiovascular disease.

Keywords: Bangladesh; arsenic; cardiovascular disease; endothelial dysfunction; environmental epidemiology; epidemiology; vascular inflammation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arsenic / blood*
  • Arsenic / urine
  • Arsenic Poisoning / epidemiology
  • Arsenic Poisoning / immunology*
  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / blood*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / adverse effects*
  • Water Supply


  • Biomarkers
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Arsenic