Maternal Arsenic Exposure and DNA Damage Biomarkers, and the Associations with Birth Outcomes in a General Population from Taiwan

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From: PLoS ONE(Vol. 9, Issue 2)
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Document Type: Medical condition overview
Length: 5,373 words
Lexile Measure: 1430L

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Author(s): Wei-Chun Chou 1,2, Yu-The Chung 2, Hsiao-Yen Chen 2, Chien-Jen Wang 2, Tsung-Ho Ying 3, Chun-Yu Chuang 1,*, Ying-Chih Tseng 4, Shu-Li Wang 2,5,*


Health status at birth is an important determinant of morbidity and mortality in early childhood [1] and of chronic disease in adulthood [2]. For example, birth weight is not only reflective of maternal health status, but also predictive of the probability for newborn survival, development, and long-term health [3]. The Apgar score is a routine for evaluating the physical condition of the newborn, including heart rate, respiratory effort, muscle tone, reflex irritability, and skin color shortly after delivery. A score [greater than or equal to]7 indicates that the condition of the newborn is good-to-excellent [4]. Otherwise, immediate extra medical care or even an intensive care unit admission would be necessary. Newborns with low birth weight (LBW) or low Apgar scores often develop various negative health consequences. Long-term effects of LBW include increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and impaired reproductive function [5]. Several studies have shown that low Apgar scores may be associated with an increased risk of reduced cognitive function and increased learning difficulties later in life [6]. Arsenic is a well-known toxicant and carcinogen, and increasing evidence indicates that arsenic may adversely affect pregnancy outcomes and development of the newborn.

Arsenic easily crosses the placenta [7], and even moderate exposure to arsenic during pregnancy has been associated with adverse health outcomes in the fetus [8]. Studies have shown that prenatal arsenic exposure is inversely associated with birth weight in Bangladesh [9], [10], and Inner Mongolia [11]. Prenatal arsenic exposure at low-to-moderate levels might also have effects on the fetus, but more evidence is needed [12].

Disrupted placentation [13] and endocrine disturbance [14] have been reported for arsenic-related adverse pregnancy outcomes. However, the mechanisms require further investigation. Studies of mice have reported that arsenic leads to an increase in oxidative stress and a subsequent increase in 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG) in tissues of tested animals [15], [16]. Increased urinary 8-oxodG in pregnant women has been linked to arsenic exposure [17]. Recently, maternal DNA damage mediated by arsenic exposure has been proposed as one mechanism responsible for fetal programming [18]. There is, however, little information on the formation of methylated DNA damage induced by arsenic exposure. Arsenic-treated mice have an arsenic-related increase in hepatic N7 -methylguanine (N7 -MeG), a marker of methylated DNA damage that reflects the overall rate of DNA methylation [19], [20], but this finding has not been confirmed in humans.

We sought to determine whether prenatal exposure to low-to-moderate levels of arsenic is associated with maternal oxidative/methylated DNA damage, and to evaluate the associations with birth outcomes. We found decreased Apgar score was associated prenatal arsenic exposure, and the maternal methylated DNA damage as the biomarker in a general population from central Taiwan.


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The Human Ethical Committee of the National Health Research Institutes in Taiwan approved this study. Before participating in the study, all pregnant...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A478801938