Immunomodulatory Role of Arsenic in Regulatory T Cells

Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2017;17(3):176-181. doi: 10.2174/1871530317666170818114454.


Background and objective: Chronic Arsenic (As) exposure continued to be a cause of major problem associated with different kind of diseases including skin problem and different types of cancer. As exposure leads to numerous other pathological conditions that affect millions of people worldwide on a regular basis. It was recently established that As toxicity affects immune system and modulates the function and survival of cells involved in immune regulation. Arsenic trioxide (As2O3) was reported to be an effective apoptosis inducer in a variety of cell types. Despite intensive research, the exact immune-modulatory role of As is poorly understood till now.

Methods: We reviewed the immunological imbalance caused due to As exposure and focused on regulatory T cells (Tregs cells). In this review, we mainly focused on role of As and its potential mechanisms in the induction and modulation of Tregs cells.

Conclusion: The multiple effects of As on immune system tend to decrease the immune surveillance system and increase the rate of infection, autoimmune disease, cancer and other immune mediated problems. As exposed individuals showed induction of oxidative stress, inflammation and impaired lymphocytes activation. The effect of As on T cell population is mainly attributed to altered expression of key immune regulator molecules impaired T cell functions, cytokines production, induction of apoptosis, and oxidative stress induction in T cells.

Keywords: Arsenic (As); Immunomodulatory; arsenic trioxide (As2O3); forkhead box P3 (FoxP3); immuno-toxicity; regulatory T cells (Tregs cells).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Arsenic Poisoning* / immunology
  • Arsenic Poisoning* / metabolism
  • Arsenic Poisoning* / pathology
  • Arsenic Trioxide
  • Arsenicals
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Immunologic Factors / toxicity*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxides / toxicity*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / drug effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / pathology


  • Arsenicals
  • Cytokines
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Oxides
  • Arsenic Trioxide