Effects of arsenite exposure during fetal development on energy metabolism and susceptibility to diet-induced fatty liver disease in male mice

Eric J. Ditzel, Thu Nguyen, Patricia Parker, Todd D Camenisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations


Background: Chronic exposure to arsenicals at various life stages and across a range of exposures has been implicated in cardiometabolic and liver disease, but disease predisposition from developmental exposures remains unclear. Objectives: In utero and post-weaning exposure to trivalent arsenic (AsIII) was examined on the background of a Western-style diet to determine whether AsIII exposure affects metabolic disease. Methods: Male Swiss Webster mice were exposed to 100 ppb AsIII in utero, after weaning, or both. Ad libitum access to a Western-style diet was provided after weaning, and the plasma metabolome, liver histopathology, liver enzyme activity, and gene expression were analyzed. Results: Hepatic lipid composition and histopathology revealed that developmental AsIII exposure exacerbated Western-style diet–induced fatty liver disease. Continuous AsIII exposure increased cardiometabolic risk factors including increased body weight, insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, and plasma triglycerides. AsIII exposure produced a decrease in the intermediates of glycolysis and the TCA cycle while increasing ketones. Hepatic isocitrate dehydrogenase activity was also decreased, which confirmed disruption of the TCA cycle. Developmental AsIII exposure increased the expression of genes involved in fatty acid synthesis, lipogenesis, inflammation, and packaging of triglycerides, suggesting an increased acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) load. Conclusions: In utero and continuous early-life exposure to AsIII disrupted normal metabolism and elevated the risk for fatty liver disease in mice maintained on a high-fat diet. Our findings suggest that individuals exposed to AsIII during key developmental periods and who remain exposed to AsIII on the background of a Western-style diet may be at increased risk for metabolic disease later in life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-209
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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