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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Metallothionein-I/II null mice are more sensitive than wild-type mice to the hepatotoxic and nephrotoxic effects of chronic oral or injected inorganic arsenicals.

Metallothionein (MT) is a low-molecular-weight, sulfhydryl-rich, metal-binding protein that can protect against the toxicity of cadmium, mercury, and copper. However, the role of MT in arsenic (As)-induced toxicity is less certain. To better define the ability of MT to modify As toxicity, MT-I/II knockout (MT-null) mice and the corresponding wild-type mice (WT) were exposed to arsenite [As(III)] or arsenate [As(V)] either through the drinking water for 48 weeks, or through repeated sc injections (5 days/week) for 15 weeks. Chronic As exposure increased tissue MT concentrations (2-5-fold) in the WT but not in MT-null mice. Arsenic by both routes produced damage to the liver (fatty infiltration, inflammation, and focal necrosis) and kidney (tubular cell vacuolization, inflammatory cell infiltration, and interstitial fibrosis) in both MT-null and WT mice. However, in MT-null mice, the pathological lesions were more frequent and severe when compared to WT mice. This was confirmed biochemically, in that, at the higher oral doses of As, blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels were increased more in MT-null mice (60%) than in WT mice (30%). Chronic As exposures produced 2-10 fold elevation of serum interleukin-1beta, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha levels, with greater increases seen by repeated injections than by oral exposure, and again, MT-null mice had higher serum cytokines than WT mice after As exposure. Repeated As injections also decreased hepatic glutathione (GSH) by 35%, but GSH-peroxidase and GSH-reductase were minimally affected. MT-null mice were more sensitive than WT mice to the effect of GSH depletion by As(V). Hepatic caspase-3 activity was increased (2-3-fold) in both WT and MT-null mice, indicative of apoptotic cell death. In summary, chronic inorganic As exposure produced injuries to multiple organs, and MT-null mice are generally more susceptible than WT mice to As-induced toxicity regardless of route of exposure, suggesting that MT could be a cellular factor in protecting against chronic As toxicity.[1]


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