Arsenite and monomethylarsonous acid generate oxidative stress response in human bladder cell culture

K. E. Eblin, M. E. Bowen, D. W. Cromey, T. G. Bredfeldt, E. A. Mash, S. S. Lau, A. J. Gandolfi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Arsenicals have commonly been seen to induce reactive oxygen species (ROS) which can lead to DNA damage and oxidative stress. At low levels, arsenicals still induce the formation of ROS, leading to DNA damage and protein alterations. UROtsa cells, an immortalized human urothelial cell line, were used to study the effects of arsenicals on the human bladder, a site of arsenical bioconcentration and carcinogenesis. Biotransformation of As(III) by UROtsa cells has been shown to produce methylated species, namely monomethylarsonous acid [MMA(III)], which has been shown to be 20 times more cytotoxic. Confocal fluorescence images of UROtsa cells treated with arsenicals and the ROS sensing probe, DCFDA, showed an increase of intracellular ROS within five min after 1 μM and 10 μM As(III) treatments. In contrast, 50 and 500 nM MMA(III) required pretreatment for 30 min before inducing ROS. The increase in ROS was ameliorated by preincubation with either SOD or catalase. An interesting aspect of these ROS detection studies is the noticeable difference between concentrations of As(III) and MMA(III) used, further supporting the increased cytotoxicity of MMA(III), as well as the increased amount of time required for MMA(III) to cause oxidative stress. These arsenical-induced ROS produced oxidative DNA damage as evidenced by an increase in 8-hydroxyl-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-oxo-dG) with either 50 nM or 5 μM MMA(III) exposure. These findings provide support that MMA(III) cause a genotoxic response upon generation of ROS. Both As(III) and MMA(III) were also able to induce Hsp70 and MT protein levels above control, showing that the cells recognize the ROS and respond. As(III) rapidly induces the formation of ROS, possibly through it oxidation to As(V) and further metabolism to MMA(III)/(V). These studies provide evidence for a different mechanism of MMA(III) toxicity, one that MMA(III) first interacts with cellular components before an ROS response is generated, taking longer to produce the effect, but with more substantial harm to the cell.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-14
Number of pages8
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 15 2006


  • 8-oxo-dG
  • As (III)
  • MMA(III)
  • Oxidative stress
  • ROS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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