A metabolic link between arsenite and selenite: The seleno-bis(S- glutathionyl) arsinium ion

Jürgen Gailer, Graham N. George, Ingrid J. Pickering, Roger C. Prince, Steven C. Ringwald, Jeanne E Pemberton, Richard S Glass, Husam S. Younis, Donald W. DeYoung, H. Vasken Aposhian

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Among the most startling observations in mammalian toxicology is that a lethal dose of selenium can be overcome by an otherwise lethal dose of arsenic. We report the molecular basis of this antagonism. Using X-ray absorption spectroscopy we have identified a new arsenic-selenium compound in the bile of rabbits injected with aqueous selenite and arsenite solutions. This compound contains equimolar arsenic and selenium and exhibits X-ray absorption spectra which are essentially identical with those of a synthetic species in solution which we have identified spectroscopically as the seleno- bis(S-glutathionyl) arsinium ion. The in vivo detection of this compound links the mammalian metabolism of arsenite, selenite, and sulfur. It provides a molecular basis for the antagonistic interaction between these metalloid compounds, and a potential explanation of the association of cancer with prolonged intake of inorganic arsenic in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4637-4639
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - May 17 2000


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)

Cite this

Gailer, J., George, G. N., Pickering, I. J., Prince, R. C., Ringwald, S. C., Pemberton, J. E., ... Aposhian, H. V. (2000). A metabolic link between arsenite and selenite: The seleno-bis(S- glutathionyl) arsinium ion. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 122(19), 4637-4639. https://doi.org/10.1021/ja993064m