Arsenic exposure induces glucose intolerance and alters global energy metabolism

Andrew G. Kirkley, Christopher M. Carmean, Daniel Ruiz, Honggang Ye, Shane M. Regnier, Ananta Poudel, Manami Hara, Wakanene Kamau, Daniel N. Johnson, Austin A. Roberts, Patrick J. Parsons, Susumu Seino, Robert M. Sargis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Environmental pollutants acting as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are recognized as potential contributors to metabolic disease pathogenesis. One such pollutant, arsenic, contaminates the drinking water of ~100 million people globally and has been associated with insulin resistance and diabetes in epidemiological studies. Despite these observations, the precise metabolic derangements induced by arsenic remain incompletely characterized. In the present study, the impact of arsenic on in vivo metabolic physiology was examined in 8-wk-old male C57BL/6J mice exposed to 50 mg/l inorganic arsenite in their drinking water for 8 wk. Glucose metabolism was assessed via in vivo metabolic testing, and feeding behavior was analyzed using indirect calorimetry in metabolic cages. Pancreatic islet composition was assessed via im-munofluorescence microscopy. Arsenic-exposed mice exhibited impaired glucose tolerance compared with controls; however, no difference in peripheral insulin resistance was noted between groups. Instead, early insulin release during glucose challenge was attenuated relative to the rise in glycemia. Despite decreased insulin secretion, pancreatic β-cell mass was not altered, suggesting that arsenic primarily disrupts β-cell function. Finally, metabolic cage analyses revealed that arsenic exposure induced novel alterations in the diurnal rhythm of food intake and energy metabolism. Taken together, these data suggest that arsenic exposure impairs glucose tolerance through functional impairments in insulin secretion from β-cells rather than by augmenting peripheral insulin resistance. Further elucidation of the mechanisms underlying arsenic-induced behavioral and β-cell-spe-cific metabolic disruptions will inform future intervention strategies to address this ubiquitous environmental contaminant and novel diabetes risk factor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R294-R303
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • Arsenic
  • Diabetes
  • Glucose intolerance
  • Insulin
  • β-cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Arsenic exposure induces glucose intolerance and alters global energy metabolism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this