U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Date of this Version



Published in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 246 (2010) 1–7. Doi:10.1016/j.taap.2010.04.013


Arsenic (+3 oxidation state) methyltransferase (As3mt) catalyzes reactions which convert inorganic arsenic to methylated metabolites. This study determined whether the As3mt null genotype in the mouse modifies cytotoxic and proliferative effects seen in urinary bladders of wild type mice after exposure to inorganic arsenic. Female wild type C57BL/6 mice and As3mt KO mice were divided into 3 groups each (n=8) with free access to a diet containing 0, 100 or 150 ppm of arsenic as arsenite (AsIII). During the first week of AsIII exposure, As3mt KO mice exhibited severe and lethal systemic toxicity. At termination, urinary bladders of both As3mt KO and wild type mice showed hyperplasia by light microscopy. As expected, arsenic-containing granules were found in the superficial urothelial layer of wild type mice. In As3mt KO mice these granules were present in all layers of the bladder epithelium and were more abundant and larger than in wild type mice. Scanning electron microscopy of the bladder urothelium of As3mt KO mice treated with 100 ppm AsIII showed extensive superficial necrosis and hyperplastic changes. In As3mt KO mice, livers showed severe acute inflammatory changes and spleen size and lymphoid areas were decreased compared with wild type mice. Thus, diminished arsenic methylation in As3mt KO mice exacerbates systemic toxicity and the effects of AsIII on the bladder epithelium, showing that altered kinetic and dynamic behavior of arsenic can affect its toxicity.