Urinary total arsenic and arsenic methylation capacity in pregnancy and gestational diabetes mellitus: A case-control study

Chemosphere. 2021 May;271:129828. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2021.129828. Epub 2021 Feb 2.


Previous studies suggest arsenic exposure may increase the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). However, prior assessments of total arsenic concentrations have not distinguished between toxic and nontoxic species. Our study aimed to investigate the relationships between inorganic arsenic exposure, arsenic methylation capacity, and GDM. Sixty-four cases of GDM and 237 controls were analyzed for urinary concentrations of inorganic arsenic species and their metabolites (arsenite (As3), arsenate (As5), monomethylarsonic acid (MMA), and dimethylarsinic acid (DMA)), and organic forms of arsenic. Inorganic arsenic exposure was defined as the sum of inorganic and methylated arsenic species (iSumAs). Methylation capacity indices were calculated as the percentage of inorganic arsenic species [iAs% = (As3 + As5)/iSumAs, MMA% = MMA/iSumAs, and DMA% = DMA/iSumAs]. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to evaluate the association between inorganic arsenic exposure, methylation capacity indices, and GDM. We did not observe evidence of a positive association between iSumAs and GDM. However, women with GDM had an increased odds of inefficient methylation capacity when comparing the highest and lowest tertiles of iAs% (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.48, 95% CI 0.58-3.77) and MMA% (aOR = 1.95 (95% CI 0.81-4.70) and a reduced odds of efficient methylation capacity as indicated by DMA% (aOR = 0.62 (95% CI 0.25-1.52), though the confidence intervals included the null value. While the observed associations with arsenic methylation indices were imprecise and warrant cautious interpretation, the direction and magnitude of the relative measures reflected a pattern of lower detoxification of inorganic arsenic exposures among women with GDM.

Keywords: Arsenic; Gestational diabetes; Inorganic arsenic; Methylation.

MeSH terms

  • Arsenic*
  • Arsenicals*
  • Cacodylic Acid
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetes, Gestational* / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Methylation
  • Pregnancy


  • Arsenicals
  • Cacodylic Acid
  • Arsenic