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Analysis of T-cell proliferation and cytokine secretion in the individuals exposed to arsenic *

Over six million people in nine districts of West Bengal, India are exposed to very high levels of arsenic primarily through their drinking water. More than 300,000 people showed arsenic-induced skin lesions in these districts. This is regarded as the greatest arsenic calamity in the world. Chronic arsenicosis causes varied dermatological signs ranging from pigmentation changes, hyperkeratosis to non-melanocytic cancer of skin, and also malignancies in different internal organs. Higher incidences of opportunistic infections are found in the arsenic-exposed individuals, indicating that their immune systems may be impaired somehow. We have thus investigated the effect of arsenic on T-cell proliferation and cytokine secretion in 20 individuals with arsenic-induced skin lesions and compared the results with 18 arsenic-unexposed individuals. A marked dose-dependent suppression of Concanavalin A (Con A) induced T-cell proliferation was observed in the arsenic-exposed individuals compared with the unexposed (P < 0.001) individuals. This correlated with a significant decrease in the levels of secreted cytokines by the T cells (TNF-, IFN-, IL2, IL10, IL5, and IL4) in the exposed individuals (P < 0.001). Thus it can be inferred that arsenic exposure can cause immunosuppression in humans.

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As with any procedure, there could be pain or other substantial risks involved. These concerns should be discussed with your health care provider prior to any treatment so that you have proper informed consent and understand that there are no guarantees to healing.

THE INFORMATION IN THIS WEBSITE IS OFFERED FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT IMPLY OR GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE. No Doctor/Patient relationship shall be deemed to have arisen simply by reading the information contained on these pages, and you should consult with your personal physician/care giver regarding your medical treatment before undergoing any sort of treatment or therapy.

Published on 10-20-2008
Authors: R Biswas, P Ghosh, N Banerjee, JK Das, T Sau, A Banerjee
Source: Human & Experimental Toxicology, Vol. 27, No. 5, 381-386 (2008),