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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2001 Apr 1;172(1):52-61.

Selenium modifies the metabolism and toxicity of arsenic in primary rat hepatocytes.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.


Arsenic and selenium are metalloids with similar chemical properties and metabolic fates. Inorganic arsenic (iAs) has been shown to modify metabolism and toxicity of inorganic and organic selenium compounds. However, little is known about effects of selenium on metabolism and toxicity of iAs. The present work examines the effects of selenite (Se(IV)) on the cellular retention, methylation, and cytotoxicity of trivalent iAs, arsenite (iAs(III)), in primary cultures of rat hepatocytes. The concurrent exposure to Se(IV) (0.1 to 6 microM) inhibited methylation and/or significantly increased cellular retention of iAs(III) in cultured cells. The ratio of the methylated metabolites produced from iAs(III), dimethylarsenic (DMAs) to methylarsenic (MAs), decreased considerably in cells treated with Se(IV), suggesting that synthesis of DMAs from MAs may be more susceptible to inhibition by Se(IV) than is the production of MAs from iAs(III). The 24-h preexposure to 2 microM Se(IV) had a similar but less pronounced inhibitory effect on the methylation of iAs(III) in cultured cells. The exposure to 2 microM Se(IV) alone for up to 24 h had no effect on the viability of cultured hepatocytes. However, concurrent exposure to 2 microM Se(IV) increased the cytotoxicity of iAs(III) and its mono- and dimethylated metabolites that contain trivalent arsenic, MAs(III) and DMAs(III). These data suggest that pre- or coexposure to inorganic selenium may enhance the toxic effects of iAs, increasing its retention in tissues and suppressing its methylation, which may be a pathway for detoxification of iAs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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