Impact of long-term exposure to sodium arsenite on cytogenetic radiation damage

Otilia Nuta, Jayne Moquet, Simon Bouffler, David Lloyd, Ovnair Sepai, Kai Rothkamm*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this work was to investigate the impact of long-term exposure to low concentrations of sodium arsenite on the cellular response to ionising radiation. Human lymphoblastoid GM1899a cells were cultured in the presence of sodium arsenite for up to six months. Following chemical exposure, acute challenge doses of X-rays were given and chromosome damage (dicentrics, acentric fragments, translocations, micronuclei) as well as cell growth and changes in cell cycle kinetics were determined. Initial short-term chemical exposures determined 8ng/ml (60nM) sodium arsenite as a suitable concentration for chronic exposures, which is below the current World Health Organization limit for arsenic in drinking water. At this concentration, cell growth was slightly, but consistently, slower than in untreated cultures throughout the six-month exposure period. Long-term exposure to the chemical induced no dicentrics and did not significantly alter the yield of dicentrics induced by 1 Gy acute X-irradiation. Similar results were obtained for chromosome translocations. In contrast, exposure to 8ng/ml sodium arsenite induced significant levels of acentric fragments and micronuclei. Fragment/micronuclei data in combined treatment samples compared with single treatments were consistent with an additive effect of chemical and radiation exposure. As for X-rays, micronuclei induced by sodium arsenite tended to show no centromere in situ hybridisation signal, indicating that they represent structural aberrations rather than mis-segregated chromosomes. Similar results were obtained in human peripheral lymphocytes following short-term exposure to sodium arsenite or X-rays. Overall, an additive effect was observed for all combined exposures. Cellular radiation responses therefore seem to operate without any modulatory effects from chronic low level exposure to sodium arsenite in the systems analysed here.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-129
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Department of Health Radiation Protection Research Programme (RRX114) and the National Institute for Health Research Centre for Research in Health Protection at the Health Protection Agency. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the National Health Service, the National Institute for Health Research or the Department of Health.


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