The mechanistic basis of arsenicosis: Pathogenesis of skin cancer

Academic Article


  • © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. Significant amounts of arsenic have been found in the groundwater of many countries including Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, China, India, Mexico, and the United States with an estimated 200 million people at risk of toxic exposure. Although chronic arsenic poisoning damages many organ systems, it usually first presents in the skin with manifestations including hyperpigmentation, hyperkeratoses, Bowen's disease, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma. Arsenic promotes oxidative stress by upregulating nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase, uncoupling nitric oxide synthase, and by depleting natural antioxidants such as nitric oxide and glutathione in addition to targeting other proteins responsible for the maintenance of redox homeostasis. It causes immune dysfunction and tissue inflammatory responses, which may involve activation of the unfolded protein response signaling pathway. In addition, the dysregulation of other molecular targets such as nuclear factor kappa B, Hippo signaling protein Yap, and the mineral dust-induced proto-oncogene may orchestrate the pathogenesis of arsenic-mediated health effects. The metalloid decreases expression of tumor suppressor molecules and increases expression of pro-inflammatory mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways leading to a tumor-promoting tissue microenvironment. Cooperation of upregulated signal transduction molecules with DNA damage may abrogate apoptosis, promote proliferation, and enhance cell survival. Genomic instability via direct DNA damage and weakening of several cellular DNA repair mechanisms could also be important cancer development mechanisms in arsenic-exposed populations. Thus, arsenic mediates its toxicity by generating oxidative stress, causing immune dysfunction, promoting genotoxicity, hampering DNA repair, and disrupting signal transduction, which may explain the complex disease manifestations seen in arsenicosis.
  • Published In

  • Cancer Letters  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Hunt KM; Srivastava RK; Elmets CA; Athar M
  • Start Page

  • 211
  • End Page

  • 219
  • Volume

  • 354
  • Issue

  • 2