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Extramural Research

Arsenic and Maternal and Infant Immune Function

EPA Grant Number: R834599C001
Subproject: this is subproject number 001 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R834599
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center - Dartmouth College
Center Director: Karagas, Margaret R
Title: Arsenic and Maternal and Infant Immune Function
Investigators: Karagas, Margaret R
Current Investigators: Karagas, Margaret R , Enelow, Richard , Korrick, Susan , Madan, Juliette
Institution: Dartmouth Medical School , Dartmouth College , Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center , Harvard Medical School , University of Miami
EPA Project Officer: Callan, Richard
Project Period: February 15, 2010 through February 14, 2013 (Extended to February 14, 2014)
RFA: Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers: Formative Centers (with NIEHS) (2009)
Research Category: Children's Health



Both animal and in vitro (laboratory cell level)studies support an association of low-level arsenic exposure with impaired immune function as reflected in suppression of innate immunity (present at birth) and increased pathogen load. The few epidemiologic studies of this association are primarily from heavily exposed populations and often involve small sample sizes or rely on ecologic exposure measures, and may not be generalizable to other regions of the world. Arsenic exposure in these heavily exposed populations has been variously associated with an increased risk of respiratory infection, bronchiectasis, and parasitic infection as well as with changed markers of immune function including, e.g., cytokine levels (IL-7, IL-2) and T-cell (CD4/CD8 immune cell) ratios. The overall goal of this study is to assess the relationship of environmentally relevant levels of arsenic with maternal and infant immune function among 1,000 women and infants enrolled in an ongoing pregnancy cohort study of reproductive toxicities of arsenic. This ongoing longitudinal study is being conducted among mother-infant pairs who are residents of New Hampshire and obtain household water from wells which are a potential source of arsenic exposure.

Expected Results:

Specifically, we will expand this ongoing study to test the following new hypotheses: (1) prenatal and early life arsenic exposure (via water, food) is associated with an increased risk of infection during the 1st year of life; (2) arsenic exposure is associated with an increased risk of infection during pregnancy. Secondarily, we will assess the relation of pre- and post-natal arsenic exposure with vaccine response at age one year (antibody levels to tetanus and diphtheria) and whether individual variation in arsenic metabolism (maternal urinary metabolite profiles and variations in arsenic metabolism genes) and other factors (e.g., smoking, folate intake) modify the effects of arsenic on infant or maternal infection. Altered immune system function, particularly in pregnancy and early childhood, can have a profound impact on both perinatal and subsequent health. To the best of our knowledge, studying immune effects of arsenic in a U.S. population of mothers and infants with both individual biomarkers of exposure and measures related to likely susceptibility, has not been done previously.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this subproject: View all 11 publications for this subprojectView all 35 publications for this center

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this subproject: View all 7 journal articles for this subprojectView all 18 journal articles for this center

Supplemental Keywords:

Water, drinking water, ground water, exposure, risk, health effects, human health, vulnerability, sensitive populations, population, infants, children, susceptibility, metals, heavy metals, public policy, decision making, community-based, public good, environmental chemistry, biology, geography, human health, environmental management, international cooperation, Scientific Discipline, Health, Risk Assessment, Biology, Children's Health, Biochemistry, Environmental Policy, Environmental Chemistry, Exposure, Environmental Monitoring, exposure assessment, arsenic exposure, birth defects, developmental disorders, perinatal exposure, prenatal exposure, drinking water, dietary exposure, biological markers, growth & development, children's vulnerability, RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, Water, HUMAN HEALTH, Environmental Chemistry, Exposure, Biochemistry, Children's Health, Environmental Policy, Biology, Drinking Water, Risk Assessment, birth defects, prenatal exposure, perinatal exposure, children's vulnerablity, arsenic exposure, biological markers, dietary exposure, growth & development, arsenic, developmental disorders

Progress and Final Reports:
2010 Progress Report
2012 Progress Report

Main Center Abstract and Reports:
R834599    Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center - Dartmouth College

Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
R834599C001 Arsenic and Maternal and Infant Immune Function
R834599C002 Food Borne Exposure to Arsenic During the First Year of Life
R834599C003 An Integrated Geospatial and Epidemiological Study of Associations Between Birth Defects and Arsenic Exposure in New England
R834599C004 Determining How Arsenic (As) Modulates Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) Signaling During Development

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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