Author(s): Liu J, Waalkes MP
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Abstract Inorganic arsenic is clearly a human carcinogen causing tumors of the skin, lung, urinary bladder, and possibly liver (IARC, 2004). At the time of construction of this monograph, the evidence for arsenic as a hepatocarcinogen in humans was considered controversial and in rodents considered insufficient. However, recent data has accumulated indicating hepatocarcinogenicity of arsenic. This forum reevaluates epidemiology studies, rodent studies together with in vitro models, and focuses on the liver as a target organ of arsenic toxicity and carcinogenesis. Hepatocellular carcinoma and hepatic angiosarcoma, have been frequently associated with environmental or medicinal exposure to arsenicals. Preneoplastic lesions, including hepatomegaly, hepatoportal sclerosis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis often occur after chronic arsenic exposure. Recent work in mice clearly shows that exposure to inorganic arsenic during gestation induces tumors, including hepatocellular adenoma and carcinoma, in offspring when they reach adulthood. In rats, the methylated arsenicals, dimethylarsinic acid promotes diethylnitrosamine-initiated liver tumors, whereas trimethylarsine oxide induces liver adenomas. Chronic exposure of rat liver epithelial cells to low concentrations of inorganic arsenic induces malignant transformation, producing aggressive, undifferentiated epithelial tumors when inoculated into the Nude mice. There are a variety of potential mechanisms for arsenical-induced hepatocarcinogenesis, such as oxidative DNA damage, impaired DNA damage repair, acquired apoptotic tolerance, hyperproliferation, altered DNA methylation, and aberrant estrogen signaling. Some of these mechanisms may be liver specific/selective. Overall, accumulating evidence clearly indicates that the liver could be an important target of arsenic carcinogenesis.
This article was published in Toxicol Sci
and referenced in Journal of Cancer Science & Therapy