Arsenic-induced neurotoxicity: a mechanistic appraisal

Carla Garza-Lombó, Aglaia Pappa, Mihalis I. Panayiotidis, María E. Gonsebatt, Rodrigo Franco

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Arsenic is a metalloid found in groundwater as a byproduct of soil/rock erosion and industrial and agricultural processes. This xenobiotic elicits its toxicity through different mechanisms, and it has been identified as a toxicant that affects virtually every organ or tissue in the body. In the central nervous system, exposure to arsenic can induce cognitive dysfunction. Furthermore, iAs has been linked to several neurological disorders, including neurodevelopmental alterations, and is considered a risk factor for neurodegenerative disorders. However, the exact mechanisms involved are still unclear. In this review, we aim to appraise the neurotoxic effects of arsenic and the molecular mechanisms involved. First, we discuss the epidemiological studies reporting on the effects of arsenic in intellectual and cognitive function during development as well as studies showing the correlation between arsenic exposure and altered cognition and mental health in adults. The neurotoxic effects of arsenic and the potential mechanisms associated with neurodegeneration are also reviewed including data from experimental models supporting epidemiological evidence of arsenic as a neurotoxicant. Next, we focused on recent literature regarding arsenic metabolism and the molecular mechanisms that begin to explain how arsenic damages the central nervous system including, oxidative stress, energy failure and mitochondrial dysfunction, epigenetics, alterations in neurotransmitter homeostasis and synaptic transmission, cell death pathways, and inflammation. Outlining the specific mechanisms by which arsenic alters the cell function is key to understand the neurotoxic effects that convey cognitive dysfunction, neurodevelopmental alterations, and neurodegenerative disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1305-1316
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Metalloid
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Oxidative stress
  • Redox homeostasis
  • iAs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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