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Arch Biochem Biophys. 2000 Oct 15;382(2):195-202.

Arsenic species that cause release of iron from ferritin and generation of activated oxygen.

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Environmental Carcinogenesis Division, US Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27711, USA.


The in vitro effects of four different species of arsenic (arsenate, arsenite, monomethylarsonic acid, and dimethylarsinic acid) in mobilizing iron from horse spleen ferritin under aerobic and anaerobic conditions were investigated. Dimethylarsinic acid (DMA(V)) and dimethylarsinous acid (DMA(III)) significantly released iron from horse spleen ferritin either with or without the presence of ascorbic acid, a strong synergistic agent. Ascorbic acid-mediated iron release was time-dependent as well as both DMA(III) and ferritin concentration-dependent. Iron release from ferritin by DMA(III)) alone or with ascorbic acid was not significantly inhibited by superoxide dismutase (150 or 300 units/ml). However, the iron release was greater under anaerobic conditions (nitrogen gas), which indicates direct chemical reduction of iron from ferritin by DMA(III), with or without ascorbic acid. Both DMA(V) and DMA(III)) released iron from both horse spleen and human liver ferritin. Further, the release of ferritin iron by DMA(III)) with ascorbic acid catalyzed bleomycin-dependent degradation of calf thymus DNA. These results indicate that exogenous methylated arsenic species and endogenous ascorbic acid can cause (a) the release of iron from ferritin, (b) the iron-dependent formation of reactive oxygen species, and (c) DNA damage. This reactive oxygen species pathway could be a mechanism of action of arsenic carcinogenesis in man.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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