Metabolomic changes associated with chronic arsenic exposure in a Bangladeshi population

Haotian Wu, Vrinda Kalia, Megan M. Niedzwiecki, Marianthi Anna Kioumourtzoglou, Brandon Pierce, Vesna Ilievski, Jeff Goldsmith, Dean P. Jones, Ana Navas-Acien, Douglas I. Walker, Mary V. Gamble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chronic exposure to arsenic (As) remains a global public health concern and our understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying the adverse effects of As exposure remains incomplete. Here, we used a high-resolution metabolomics approach to examine how As affects metabolic pathways in humans. We selected 60 non-smoking adults from the Folic Acid and Creatine Trial (FACT). Inorganic (AsIII, AsV) and organic (monomethylarsonous acid [MMAs], dimethylarsinous Acid [DMAs]) As species were measured in blood and urine collected at baseline and at 12 weeks. Plasma metabolome profiles were measured using untargeted high-resolution mass spectrometry. Associations of blood and urinary As with 170 confirmed metabolites and >26,000 untargeted spectral features were modeled using a metabolome-wide association study (MWAS) approach. Models were adjusted for age, sex, visit, and BMI and corrected for false discovery rate (FDR). In the MWAS screening of confirmed metabolites, 17 were associated with ≥1 blood As species (FDR<0.05), including fatty acids, neurotransmitter metabolites, and amino acids. These results were consistent across blood As species and between blood and urine As. Untargeted MWAS identified 423 spectral features associated with ≥1 blood As species. Unlike the confirmed metabolites, untargeted model results were not consistent across As species, with AsV and DMAs showing distinct association patterns. Mummichog pathway analysis revealed 12 enriched metabolic pathways that overlapped with the 17 identified metabolites, including one carbon metabolism, tricarboxylic acid cycle, fatty acid metabolism, and purine metabolism. Exposure to As may affect numerous essential pathways that underlie the well-characterized associations of As with multiple chronic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number137998
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Arsenic
  • Folate
  • Folic acid
  • Metabolomics
  • One carbon metabolism
  • TCA cycle


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