Significantly increased risk of carotid atherosclerosis with arsenic exposure and polymorphisms in arsenic metabolism genes

Environ Res. 2011 Aug;111(6):804-10. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2011.05.003. Epub 2011 May 24.


Individual susceptibility to arsenic-induced carotid atherosclerosis might be associated with genetic variations in arsenic metabolism. The purpose of this study is to explore the interaction effect on risk of carotid atherosclerosis between arsenic exposure and risk genotypes of purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP), arsenic (+3) methyltransferase (As3MT), and glutathione S-transferase omega 1 (GSTO1) and omega 2 (GSTO2). A community-based case-control study was conducted in northeastern Taiwan to investigate the arsenic metabolic-related genetic susceptibility to carotid atherosclerosis. In total, 863 subjects, who had been genotyped and for whom the severity of carotid atherosclerosis had been determined, were included in the present study. Individual well water was collected and arsenic concentration determined using hydride generation combined with flame atomic absorption spectrometry. The result showed that a significant dose-response trend (P=0.04) of carotid atherosclerosis risk associated with increasing arsenic concentration. Non-significant association between genetic polymorphisms of PNP Gly51Ser, Pro57Pro, As3MT Met287Thr, GSTO1 Ala140Asp, and GSTO2 A-183G and the risk for development of carotid atherosclerosis were observed. However, the significant interaction effect on carotid atherosclerosis risk was found for arsenic exposure (>50μg/l) and the haplotypes of PNP (p=0.0115). A marked elevated risk of carotid atherosclerosis was observed in subjects with arsenic exposure of >50μg/l in drinking water and those who carried the PNP A-T haplotype and at least either of the As3MT risk polymorphism or GSTO risk haplotypes (OR, 6.43; 95% CI, 1.79-23.19). In conclusion, arsenic metabolic genes, PNP, As3MT, and GSTO, may exacerbate the formation of atherosclerosis in individuals with high levels of arsenic concentration in well water (>50μg/l).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arsenic / analysis
  • Arsenic / metabolism*
  • Arsenic / toxicity*
  • Atherosclerosis / chemically induced
  • Atherosclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Atherosclerosis / genetics
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / chemically induced
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / genetics
  • Carotid Artery, Common / pathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Purine-Nucleoside Phosphorylase / genetics
  • Risk
  • Taiwan / epidemiology
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*


  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Methyltransferases
  • AS3MT protein, human
  • Purine-Nucleoside Phosphorylase
  • GSTO1 protein, human
  • GSTO2 protein, human
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Arsenic