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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2002 Mar 1;179(2):83-8.

Enhancement of platelet aggregation and thrombus formation by arsenic in drinking water: a contributing factor to cardiovascular disease.

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College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University, Seoul, 151-742, Korea.


Arsenic in drinking water is a worldwide health problem that is associated with cardiovascular disease, but the cause is currently unknown. Arsenic effects on platelets, which are important in development of cardiovascular disease, were examined in vitro and in a drinking water study using a rat animal model. Trivalent inorganic arsenic (arsenite) induced in vitro aggregation when platelets were exposed to subthreshold challenge by thrombin and several other agonists in a concentration-dependent manner, with arsenite being the most potent form tested. Arsenite also induced significant increases in serotonin secretion, thromboxane A(2) formation, and adhesion protein expression in platelets. Consistent with the in vitro studies, 4-week ingestion of arsenite-contaminated drinking water resulted in enhanced arterial thrombosis. Human platelets showed similar responses, suggesting that the effects seen in animal experiments are applicable to humans. These results will provide new insights into the mechanism of arsenic-induced cardiovascular disease. They will also allow regulatory agencies to estimate risk from arsenic-induced cardiovascular disease and to determine if drinking water regulatory levels based on human cancer studies will protect against noncancer effects associated with cardiovascular disease.

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