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.