Indigenous people living in the Bolivian Andes are exposed through their drinking water to inorganic arsenic, a potent carcinogen. However, the health consequences of arsenic exposure in this region are unknown. The aim of this study was to evaluate associations between arsenic exposure and changes in cancer-related proteins in indigenous women (n = 176) from communities around the Andean Lake Poopó, Bolivia. Arsenic exposure was assessed in whole blood (B-As) and urine (as the sum of arsenic metabolites, U-As) by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Cancer-related proteins (N = 92) were measured in urine using the proximity extension assay. The median B-As concentration was 2.1 (range 0.60–9.1) ng/g, and U-As concentration was 67 (12–399) μg/L. Using linear regression models adjusted for age, urinary osmolality, and urinary leukocytes, we identified associations between B-As and four putative cancer-related proteins: FASLG, SEZ6L, LYPD3, and TFPI2. Increasing B-As concentrations were associated with lower protein expression of SEZ6L, LYPD3, and TFPI2, and with higher expression of FASLG in urine (no association was statistically significant after correcting for multiple comparisons). The associations were similar across groups with different arsenic metabolism efficiency, a susceptibility factor for arsenic toxicity. In conclusion, arsenic exposure in this region was associated with changes in the expression of some cancer-related proteins in urine. Future research is warranted to understand if these proteins could serve as valid biomarkers for arsenic-related toxicity.
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© Copyright © 2020 De Loma, Gliga, Levi, Ascui, Gardon, Tirado and Broberg.