AsFAs: a lesser known class of arsenolipids, are they toxic as well?

Seafood is a major source of heavy metal toxicity worldwide. In mid 20th century, Japan witnessed two most dramatic and emotionally moving cases of industrial pollution in history, Minimata disease and Itai itai disease caused by Mercury and  Cadmium contamination respectively. Arsenic is yet another example of toxic heavy metal found in marine food. Arsenic content in marine food is up to 100-fold higher than in terrestrial food and arsenic is mostly present as organic species as arsenobetaine, arsenosugars and arsenolipids.

The classes of arsenolipids include arsenic containing hydrocarbons (AsHCs), arsenosugars-phospholipids (AsPLs), cationic trimethylarsonio fatty alcohols as well as  arsenic-containing fatty acids (AsFAs). AsFAs consist of a polar dimethylarsinoyl group and a carboxylic acid with a long hydrocarbon chain (saturated or unsaturated) in the middle. AsFAs were identified in several cod liver oil samples, in edible fish like herring or red mullet and in brown algae.

AsFAs and metabolites

In a recent article published in Toxicology Research by Schwerdtle et al. from University of Münster, the thorough assessment conducted for in vitro toxicological profiling of AsFAs and their three metabolites ( DMAV, DMAPr and thio-DMAPr) is illustrated. The study involved cytotoxicity , bioavailability and genotoxicity analysis of a satutared and an unsaturated arsenic-containing fatty acid for the first time in human liver cells (HepG2). Also, the toxicity of the three metabolites was characterised in human liver cells and urothelial (UROtsa) cells.

‘ Saturated and unsaturated AsFAs exert cytotoxicity in human liver cells, although they are less toxic than iAsIII and do not show any genotoxic effects’, conclude Schwerdtle et al.

To find out more about the in vitro toxicological analysis of AsFAs, read the the full article for free* by following the link.

In vitro toxicological characterisation of arsenic-containing fatty acids and three of their metabolites

S. Meyer, G. Raber, F. Ebert, L. Leffers, S. M. Müller, M. S. Taleshi, K. A. Francesconi and T. Schwerdtle

Toxicol. Res., 2015, Advance Article

DOI: 10.1039/C5TX00122F

About the webwriter
Sushil Benke is a graduate student under the supervision of Dr. H. N. Gopi in the Department of Chemistry at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune. His research focuses on the development of novel antimicrobial peptidomimetics.

*Access is free through a registered RSC account.

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