Background: Women living in the Bolivian Andes are environmentally exposed to arsenic, yet there is scarce information about arsenic-related effects in this region. Several biomarkers for telomere length and oxidative stress (mitochondrial DNA copy number, mtDNAcn; 8-Oxo-2′-deoxyguanosine, 8-oxo-dG; and 4-hydroxy nonenal mercapturic acid, 4-HNE-MA) have been previously linked to arsenic, and some of which are prospective biomarkers for cancer risk. Objective and hypothesis: To evaluate associations between arsenic exposure and telomere length, mtDNAcn, 8-oxo-dG, and 4-HNE-MA in Bolivians. Arsenic exposure was hypothesized to be positively associated with all four toxicity biomarkers, particularly in individuals with a less efficient arsenic metabolism. Methods: The study encompassed 193 indigenous women. Arsenic exposure was assessed in urine as the sum of inorganic arsenic metabolite concentrations (U-As) measured by HPLC-HG-ICP-MS, and in whole blood as total arsenic (B-As) measured by ICP-MS. Efficiency of arsenic metabolism was evaluated by a polymorphism (rs3740393) in the main arsenic methylating gene AS3MT measured by TaqMan allelic discrimination, and by the relative fractions of urinary inorganic arsenic metabolites. Telomere length and mtDNAcn were determined in peripheral blood leukocytes by quantitative PCR, and urinary 8-oxo-dG and 4-HNE-MA by LC-MS/MS. Results: U-As and B-As were associated with longer telomeres and higher mtDNAcn, particularly in women with a less efficient arsenic metabolism. Urinary 8-oxo-dG and 4-HNE-MA were positively associated with U-As, but only 4-HNE-MA was associated with B-As. Arsenic metabolism efficiency did not have a clear effect on the concentrations of either of these biomarkers. Conclusion: Bolivian women showed indications of arsenic toxicity, measured by four different biomarkers. Telomere length, mtDNAcn, and 4-HNE-MA were positively associated with both U-As and B-As. The association of arsenic exposure with telomere length and mtDNAcn was only present in Bolivian women with a less efficient metabolism. These findings call for additional efforts to evaluate and reduce arsenic exposure in Bolivia.
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