Prenatal arsenite exposure alters maternal cardiac remodeling during late pregnancy

Nicole Taube, Raihan Kabir, Obialunanma V. Ebenebe, Haley Garbus, Sarah Marie Alam El Din, Emily Illingworth, Michael Fitch, Nadan Wang, Mark J. Kohr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exposure to inorganic arsenic through drinking water is widespread and has been linked to many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease. Arsenic exposure has been shown to alter hypertrophic signaling in the adult heart, as well as in utero offspring development. However, the effect of arsenic on maternal cardiac remodeling during pregnancy has not been studied. As such, there is a need to understand how environmental exposure contributes to adverse pregnancy-related cardiovascular events. This study seeks to understand the impact of trivalent inorganic arsenic exposure during gestation on maternal cardiac remodeling in late pregnancy, as well as offspring outcomes. C57BL/6 J mice were exposed to 0 (control), 100 or 1000 μg/L sodium arsenite (NaAsO2) beginning at embryonic day (E) 2.5 and continuing through E17.5. Maternal heart function and size were assessed via transthoracic echocardiography, gravimetric measurement, and histology. Transcript levels of hypertrophic markers were probed via qRT-PCR and confirmed by western blot. Offspring outcomes were assessed through echocardiography and gravimetric measurement. We found that maternal heart size was smaller and transcript levels of Esr1 (estrogen receptor alpha), Pgrmc1 (progesterone receptor membrane component 1) and Pgrmc2 (progesterone receptor membrane component 2) reduced during late pregnancy with exposure to 1000 μg/L iAs vs. non-exposed pregnant controls. Both 100 and 1000 μg/L iAs also reduced transcription of Nppa (atrial natriuretic peptide). Akt protein expression was also significantly reduced after 1000 μg/L iAs exposure in the maternal heart with no change in activating phosphorylation. This significant abrogation of maternal cardiac hypertrophy suggests that arsenic exposure during pregnancy can potentially contribute to cardiovascular disease. Taken together, our findings further underscore the importance of reducing arsenic exposure during pregnancy and indicate that more research is needed to assess the impact of arsenic and other environmental exposures on the maternal heart and adverse pregnancy events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116833
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • Arsenic
  • Cardiotoxicity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Maternal exposure
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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