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Your Environment. Your Health.

University of California-Berkeley

Superfund Research Program

Arsenic Biomarker Epidemiology

Project Leader: Allan H. Smith
Co-Investigator: Martyn T. Smith
Grant Number: P42ES004705
Funding Period: 1995-2022
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Project Summary (2011-2017)

Arsenic is ranked number one on the Superfund Priority List of Hazardous Substances. During the last five years, the research group found that early life exposure to arsenic results in major mortality increases among young adults aged 30-49 from lung cancer and bronchiectasis, myocardial infarction, kidney cancer, and bladder cancer. The Chile studies have recently identified even more causes of death related to arsenic, and show that peak mortality risks are much greater than those from any other environmental exposure anywhere in the world. The researchers are continuing their investigation of arsenic exposure and mortality in northern Chile for the years 1950 to 2000, and are now assessing mortality due to pulmonary tuberculosis, chronic renal failure, and their newly discovered evidence of increased mortality from cancers of the larynx, penis, cervix and thyroid gland. They are also following a unique cohort of children in Bangladesh who were highly exposed to arsenic in utero and in early childhood, including measuring lung function, assessing the incidence of chronic respiratory disease and upper respiratory tract infections, measuring blood pressure, blood glucose and ;β2-microglobulin, a marker of reduced kidney glomerular filtration rate. The researchers are collecting urine samples and buccal cells from Bangladesh and from their ongoing northern Chile early life exposure study, to analyze epigenetic alterations and proteomic biomarkers of arsenic exposure, susceptibility, and disease. They use the northern Chile buccal and urine samples to assess the impact on pulmonary function and respiratory symptoms in adults, decades after high exposure. The researchers are conducting in vitro studies to determine the mechanism and downstream effects involved in the persistent down-regulation of HBDl gene expression by the toxic arsenic metabolite, MMA3. They also knock down HBDl gene expression in target organ cell lines to determine the genes that are affected by HBDl down-regulation.

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