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Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Aug;119(8):1104-9. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1003324. Epub 2011 May 18.

Characterization of the impaired glucose homeostasis produced in C57BL/6 mice by chronic exposure to arsenic and high-fat diet.

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Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599‑7461, USA.



Type 2 diabetes is characterized by glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. Obesity is the leading cause of type 2 diabetes. Growing evidence suggests that chronic exposure to inorganic arsenic (iAs) also produces symptoms consistent with diabetes. Thus, iAs exposure may further increase the risk of diabetes in obese individuals.


Our goal was to characterize diabetogenic effects of iAs exposure and high-fat diet (HFD) in weaned C57BL/6 mice.


Mice were fed HFD or low-fat diet (LFD) while exposed to iAs in drinking water (25 or 50 ppm As) for 20 weeks; control HFD and LFD mice drank deionized water. Body mass and adiposity were monitored throughout the study. We measured glucose and insulin levels in fasting blood and in blood collected during oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTT) to evaluate the diabetogenic effects of the treatment.


Control mice fed HFD accumulated more fat, had higher fasting blood glucose, and were more insulin resistant than were control LFD mice. However, these diabetes indicators decreased with iAs intake in a dose-dependent manner. OGTT showed impaired glucose tolerance for both control and iAs-treated HFD mice compared with respective LFD mice. Notably, glucose intolerance was more pronounced in HFD mice treated with iAs despite a significant decrease in adiposity, fasting blood glucose, and insulin resistance.


Our data suggest that iAs exposure acts synergistically with HFD-induced obesity in producing glucose intolerance. However, mechanisms of the diabetogenic effects of iAs exposure may differ from the mechanisms associated with the obesity-induced type 2 diabetes.

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