Knockout of arsenic (+3 oxidation state) methyltransferase is associated with adverse metabolic phenotype in mice: the role of sex and arsenic exposure

Arch Toxicol. 2017 Jul;91(7):2617-2627. doi: 10.1007/s00204-016-1890-9. Epub 2016 Nov 15.


Susceptibility to toxic effects of inorganic arsenic (iAs) depends, in part, on efficiency of iAs methylation by arsenic (+3 oxidation state) methyltransferase (AS3MT). As3mt-knockout (KO) mice that cannot efficiently methylate iAs represent an ideal model to study the association between iAs metabolism and adverse effects of iAs exposure, including effects on metabolic phenotype. The present study compared measures of glucose metabolism, insulin resistance and obesity in male and female wild-type (WT) and As3mt-KO mice during a 24-week exposure to iAs in drinking water (0.1 or 1 mg As/L) and in control WT and As3mt-KO mice drinking deionized water. Results show that effects of iAs exposure on fasting blood glucose (FBG) and glucose tolerance in either WT or KO mice were relatively minor and varied during the exposure. The major effects were associated with As3mt KO. Both male and female control KO mice had higher body mass with higher percentage of fat than their respective WT controls. However, only male KO mice were insulin resistant as indicated by high FBG, and high plasma insulin at fasting state and 15 min after glucose challenge. Exposure to iAs increased fat mass and insulin resistance in both male and female KO mice, but had no significant effects on body composition or insulin resistance in WT mice. These data suggest that As3mt KO is associated with an adverse metabolic phenotype that is characterized by obesity and insulin resistance, and that the extent of the impairment depends on sex and exposure to iAs, including exposure to iAs from mouse diet.

Keywords: Arsenic; As3mt-knockout mice; Insulin resistance; Metabolic phenotype; Obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arsenic / pharmacokinetics
  • Arsenic / toxicity*
  • Arsenic / urine
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Body Composition / genetics
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Body Weight / genetics
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance / genetics*
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Methyltransferases / genetics*
  • Methyltransferases / metabolism
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / metabolism*


  • Methyltransferases
  • AS3MT protein, mouse
  • Glucose
  • Arsenic