Brenda C. Minatel1, Adam P. Sage1, Christine Anderson, Roland Hubaux, Erin A. Marshall, Wan L. Lam, Victor D. Martinez. Environmental arsenic exposure: From genetic susceptibility to pathogenesis. Environment International Volume 112, March 2018, Pages 183–197
More than 200 million people in 70 countries are exposed to arsenic through drinking water. Chronic exposure to this metalloid has been associated with the onset of many diseases, including cancer. Epidemiological evidence supports its carcinogenic potential, however, detailed molecular mechanisms remain to be elucidated. Despite the global magnitude of this problem, not all individuals face the same risk. Susceptibility to the toxic effects of arsenic is influenced by alterations in genes involved in arsenic metabolism, as well as biological factors, such as age, gender and nutrition. Moreover, chronic arsenic exposure results in several genotoxic and epigenetic alterations tightly associated with the arsenic biotransformation process, resulting in an increased cancer risk. In this review, we: 1) review the roles of inter-individual DNA-level variations influencing the susceptibility to arsenic-induced carcinogenesis; 2) discuss the contribution of arsenic biotransformation to cancer initiation; 3) provide insights into emerging research areas and the challenges in the field; and 4) compile a resource of publicly available arsenic-related DNA-level variations, transcriptome and methylation data. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of arsenic exposure and its subsequent health effects will support efforts to reduce the worldwide health burden and encourage the development of strategies for managing arsenic-related diseases in the era of personalized medicine.