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Metabolism of arsenic in primary cultures of human and rat hepatocytes

TitleMetabolism of arsenic in primary cultures of human and rat hepatocytes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsStyblo, M, Del Razo, LM, LeCluyse, EL, Hamilton, GA, Wang, CQ, Cullen, WR, Thomas, DJ
JournalChemical Research in Toxicology
Date PublishedJul
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0893-228X

The liver is considered a major site for methylation of inorganic arsenic (iAs). However, there is Little data on the capacity of human liver to methylate iAs. This work examined the metabolism of arsenite (iAs(III)), arsenate (iAs(v)), methylarsine oxide ((MAsO)-O-III), methylarsonic acid (MAsv), dimethylarsinous acid (DMAsIII), and dimethylarsinic acid (DMAsV) in primary cultures of normal human hepatocytes. Primary rat hepatocytes were used as methylating controls, iAs(III) and (MAsO)-O-III were metabolized more extensively than iAs(v) and MAsv by either cell type. Neither human nor rat hepatocytes metabolized DMAsIII or DMAsV. Methylation of iAs(III) by human hepatocytes yielded methylarsenic (MAs) and dimethylarsenic (DMAs) species; (MAsO)-O-III was converted to DMAs. The total methylation yield (MAs and DMAs) increased over the range of 0.1 to 4 mu M iAs(III). However, DMAs production was inhibited by iAs(III) in a concentration-dependent manner, and the DMAs/MAs ratio decreased. iAs(III) (10 and 20 mu M) inhibited both methylation reactions. Inhibition of DMAs synthesis resulted in accumulation of iAs and MAs in human hepatocytes, suggesting that dimethylation is required for iAs clearance from cells. Methylation capacities of human hepatocytes obtained from four donors ranged from 3.1 to 35.7 pmol of iAs(III) per 10(6) cells per hour and were substantially lower than the methylation capacity of rat hepatocytes (387 pmol of iAs(III) per 10(6) cells per hour). The maximal methylation rates for either rat or human hepatocytes were attained between 0.4 and 4 mu M iAs(III). In summary, (i) human hepatocytes methylate iAs, (ii) the capacities for iAs methylation vary among individuals and are saturable, and (iii) moderate concentrations of iAs inhibit DMAs synthesis, resulting in an accumulation of iAs and MAs in cells.

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