Arsenic and other metals as phenotype driving electrophiles in carcinogenesis

Jeanne M. Danes, Flavio R. Palma, Marcelo G. Bonini*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


There are several sources of heavy metal exposures whether occupational or environmental. These are connected both with the existence of natural reservoirs of metal toxicants or human activity such as mining, welding and construction. In general, exposure to heavy metals, such as cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb) and metalloids, such as arsenic (As), has been associated with diseases including neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes and cancer. Common to these diseases is the loss of cellular physiologic performance and phenotype required for proper function. On the metal side, electrophilic behavior that disrupts the electronic (or redox) state of cells is a common feature. This suggests that there may be a connection between changes to the redox equilibrium of cells caused by environmental exposures to heavy metals and the pathogenic effects of such exposures. In this mini-review, we will focus on two environmental contaminants cadmium (a metal) and arsenic (a metalloid) and explore their interactions with living organisms from the perspective of their electrophilic chemical reactivity that underlies both their potential as carcinogens and as drivers of more aggressive tumor phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-291
Number of pages5
JournalSeminars in Cancer Biology
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Arsenic
  • Breast cancer
  • Electrophiles
  • Epithelial
  • Mesenchymal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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