Epigenomic reprogramming in inorganic arsenic-mediated gene expression patterns during carcinogenesis

Rev Environ Health. 2017 Mar 1;32(1-2):93-103. doi: 10.1515/reveh-2016-0025.


Arsenic is a ubiquitous metalloid that is not mutagenic but is carcinogenic. The mechanism(s) by which arsenic causes cancer remain unknown. To date, several mechanisms have been proposed, including the arsenic-induced generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). However, it is also becoming evident that inorganic arsenic (iAs) may exert its carcinogenic effects by changing the epigenome, and thereby modifying chromatin structure and dynamics. These epigenetic changes alter the accessibility of gene regulatory factors to DNA, resulting in specific changes in gene expression both at the levels of transcription initiation and gene splicing. In this review, we discuss recent literature reports describing epigenetic changes induced by iAs exposure and the possible epigenetic mechanisms underlying these changes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arsenic / toxicity*
  • Carcinogenesis*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Gene Expression*
  • Humans


  • Arsenic