Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Biomedical Science


School of Medicine

First Advisor

Jennifer Nyland


Arsenic, a ubiquitous environmental contaminant, has been shown to cause a number of health effects. At high concentrations the inorganic form is a well-known toxin, but at lower concentrations the effects range from various cancers, to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. At higher concentrations of arsenic (500- 1000μg/L) there have been epidemiological studies conducted demonstrating an increased risk in the development of type 2 diabetes with this exposure. At lower levels of arsenic exposure (<500 μg/L) the epidemiological results are inconclusive. Arsenic is also an immunotoxicant, meaning that it will cause changes in the immune response. The changes in the immune response will vary depending on a number of variables, including amount of arsenic exposure, forms of exposure and route of exposure. We wanted to determine if arsenic could modulate the immune system, and if this change could lead to an increase in susceptibility to type 2 diabetes development. We chose to examine this in C57BL/6 and db/+ mice – two non-susceptible strains. After 8 weeks (4 weeks old to 12 weeks old) of low dose inorganic arsenic exposure (50 μg/kg or 500 μg/kg) we evaluated changes in body composition, glucose tolerance and immune response. We saw that there were differences based on sex, genotype and treatment group present after the 8-week treatment period in body composition, while there were minimal changes in glucose tolerance. Finally, the immune response showed great variability depending on sex, genotype and treatment group. This project has demonstrated that while we are trying to compare differences in in vivo and epidemiological studies to find a link between arsenic and type 2 diabetes, there may be deeper levels of complications based on individual variability to arsenic exposure.