Arsenic in the human food chain, biotransformation and toxicology- review focusing on seafood arsenic


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Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology;31



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Fish and seafood are main contributors of arsenic (As) in the diet. The dominating arsenical is the organoarsenical arsenobetaine (AB), found particularly in finfish. Algae, blue mussels and other filter feeders contain less AB, but more arsenosugars and relatively more inorganic arsenic (iAs), whereas fatty fish contain more arsenolipids. Other compounds present in smaller amounts in seafood include trimethylarsine oxide (TMAO), trimethylarsoniopropionate (TMAP), dimethylarsenate (DMA), methylarsenate (MA) and sulfur-containing arsenicals. The toxic and carcinogenic arsenical iAs is biotransformed in humans and excreted in urine as the carcinogens dimethylarsinate (DMA) and methylarsonate (MA), producing reactive intermediates in the process. Less is known about the biotransformation of organoarsenicals, but new insight indicates that bioconversion of arsenosugars and arsenolipids in seafood results in urinary excretion of DMA, possibly also producing reactive trivalent arsenic intermediates. Recent findings also indicate that the pre-systematic metabolism by colon microbiota play an important role for human metabolism of arsenicals. Processing of seafood may also result in transformation of arsenicals.



NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Molin, M., Ulven, S. M., Meltzer, H. M., & Alexander, J. (2015). Arsenic in the human food chain, biotransformation and toxicology–Review focusing on seafood arsenic. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, 31, 249-259.”

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