Mitochondrial oxidative stress and dysfunction in arsenic neurotoxicity: A review

J Appl Toxicol. 2016 Feb;36(2):179-88. doi: 10.1002/jat.3256. Epub 2015 Oct 29.


Arsenic is a toxic metalloid present ubiquitously on earth. Since the last decade, it has gained considerable attention due to its severe neurotoxic effects. Arsenic can cross the blood-brain barrier and accumulate in different regions of the brain suggesting its role in neurological diseases. Arsenic exposure has been associated with reactive oxygen species generation, which is supposed to be one of the mechanisms of arsenic-induced oxidative stress. Mitochondria, being the major source of reactive oxygen species generation may present an important target of arsenic toxicity. It is speculated that the proper functioning of the brain depends largely on efficient mitochondrial functions. Multiple studies have reported evidence of brain mitochondrial impairment after arsenic exposure. In this review, we have evaluated the proposed mechanisms of arsenic-induced mitochondrial oxidative stress and dysfunction. The understanding of molecular mechanism of mitochondrial dysfunction may be helpful to develop therapeutic strategies against arsenic-induced neurotoxicity. The ameliorative measures undertaken in arsenic-induced mitochondrial dysfunction have also been highlighted.

Keywords: arsenic; membrane potential; mitochondrial dysfunction; neurotoxicity; oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arsenic Poisoning / physiopathology*
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Superoxide Dismutase / drug effects*


  • Superoxide Dismutase