Arsenic exposure, diabetes-related genes and diabetes prevalence in a general population from Spain

Environ Pollut. 2018 Apr;235:948-955. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.01.008. Epub 2018 Feb 21.


Inorganic arsenic exposure may be associated with diabetes, but the evidence at low-moderate levels is not sufficient. Polymorphisms in diabetes-related genes have been involved in diabetes risk. We evaluated the association of inorganic arsenic exposure on diabetes in the Hortega Study, a representative sample of a general population from Valladolid, Spain. Total urine arsenic was measured in 1451 adults. Urine arsenic speciation was available in 295 randomly selected participants. To account for the confounding introduced by non-toxic seafood arsenicals, we designed a multiple imputation model to predict the missing arsenobetaine levels. The prevalence of diabetes was 8.3%. The geometric mean of total arsenic was 66.0 μg/g. The adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence interval) for diabetes comparing the highest with the lowest tertile of total arsenic were 1.76 (1.01, 3.09) and 2.14 (1.47, 3.11) before and after arsenobetaine adjustment, respectively. Polymorphisms in several genes including IL8RA, TXN, NR3C2, COX5A and GCLC showed suggestive differential associations of urine total arsenic with diabetes. The findings support the role of arsenic on diabetes and the importance of controlling for seafood arsenicals in populations with high seafood intake. Suggestive arsenic-gene interactions require confirmation in larger studies.

Keywords: Arsenic; Arsenic species; Diabetes; Gene-environment interaction; Multiple imputation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arsenic / metabolism*
  • Arsenic / toxicity
  • Arsenicals / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / genetics
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism*
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Risk
  • Seafood / statistics & numerical data
  • Spain
  • Young Adult


  • Arsenicals
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Arsenic
  • arsenobetaine