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PLoS One. 2014 Apr 8;9(4):e93920. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093920. eCollection 2014.

Arsenite selectively inhibits mouse bone marrow lymphoid progenitor cell development in vivo and in vitro and suppresses humoral immunity in vivo.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States of America.
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Pharmacy, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, United States of America.


It is known that exposure to As(+3) via drinking water causes a disruption of the immune system and significantly compromises the immune response to infection. The purpose of these studies was to assess the effects of As(+3) on bone marrow progenitor cell colony formation and the humoral immune response to a T-dependent antigen response (TDAR) in vivo. In a 30 day drinking water study, mice were exposed to 19, 75, or 300 ppb As(+3). There was a decrease in bone marrow cell recovery, but not spleen cell recovery at 300 ppb As(+3). In the bone marrow, As(+3) altered neither the expression of CD34+ and CD38+ cells, markers of early hematopoietic stem cells, nor CD45-/CD105+, markers of mesenchymal stem cells. Spleen cell surface marker CD45 expression on B cells (CD19+), T cells (CD3+), T helper cells (CD4+) and cytotoxic T cells (CD8+), natural killer (NK+), and macrophages (Mac 1+) were not altered by the 30 day in vivo As(+3) exposure. Functional assays of CFU-B colony formation showed significant selective suppression (p<0.05) by 300 ppb As(+3) exposure, whereas CFU-GM formation was not altered. The TDAR of the spleen cells was significantly suppressed at 75 and 300 ppb As(+3). In vitro studies of the bone marrow revealed a selective suppression of CFU-B by 50 nM As(+3) in the absence of apparent cytotoxicity. Monomethylarsonous acid (MMA(+3)) demonstrated a dose-dependent and selective suppression of CFU-B beginning at 5 nM (p<0.05). MMA(+3) suppressed CFU-GM formation at 500 nM, a concentration that proved to be nonspecifically cytotoxic. As(+5) did not suppress CFU-B and/or CFU-GM in vitro at concentrations up to 500 nM. Collectively, these results demonstrate that As(+3) and likely its metabolite (MMA(+3)) target lymphoid progenitor cells in mouse bone marrow and mature B and T cell activity in the spleen.

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