Arsenic and microRNA Expression

  • Elena SturchioEmail author
  • Miriam Zanellato
  • Priscilla Boccia
  • Claudia Meconi
  • Silvia Gioiosa
Reference work entry


Arsenic is a naturally occurring metalloid that poses a major threat to worldwide human health. The most toxic form of arsenic is inorganic arsenic, which has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a group 1 carcinogenic to humans. This classification is based on the increased incidence of primary skin cancer, as well as lung and urinary bladder cancer after exposure to arsenic. Exposure to arsenic typically occurs by oral consumption of contaminated drinking water, soil, and food or by inhalation in an industrial work setting. The main exposure route to inorganic arsenic remains dietary, particularly in infants. This review describes our current understanding of the molecular mechanisms through which arsenic causes harm, although the toxic effects associated with inorganic arsenic exposure are not well understood. Arsenic toxicokinetics varies depending on its form and on several factors such as life-stage, gender, nutritional status, and genetic polymorphisms. MicroRNAs play a key role in many physiological and pathological cellular processes, and they are powerful regulators of gene expression under inorganic arsenic exposure. Several in vitro and in vivo studies on the effect of inorganic arsenic exposure on the microRNA expression profile showed that microRNAs misregulation is involved in a variety of human tumors and in angiogenesis.


Arsenic Inorganic arsenic Metabolic pathway Carcinogenesis Human exposure Mechanism of action Toxicity microRNA expression Contaminated water Dietary intake 

List of Abbreviations




Human As methyltransferase



AsT cell

As transformed cell




Chromated copper arsenate


Dimethylarsinic acid


DNA methyltransferase


Epithelial–mesenchymal transition




Human bronchial epithelial cell


Human embryo lung fibroblast cell


Inorganic arsenic


Maximum contaminant level


Mouse embryonic stem cells




Monomethylarsonic acid


PH domain leucine-rich repeat protein phosphatase


Reactive oxygen species


Quantitative reverse transcription PCR




Small ubiquitin-like modifier


Vascular endothelial growth factor protein


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elena Sturchio
    • 1
    Email author
  • Miriam Zanellato
    • 1
  • Priscilla Boccia
    • 1
  • Claudia Meconi
    • 2
  • Silvia Gioiosa
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Technological Innovation and Safety of Plants, Product and Anthropic Settlements (DIT)Italian Workers’ Compensation Authority (INAIL)RomeItaly
  2. 2.Research Organization CRF (Cooperativa Ricerca Finalizzata Sc)Tor Vergata University Science ParkRomeItaly
  3. 3.Institute of Biomembranes and BioenergeticsNational Research CouncilBariItaly

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