Journal Articles

Publication Date



Environmental Advances


BACKGROUND: Differences in arsenic metabolism capacity may influence risk for type 2 diabetes, but the mechanistic drivers are unclear. We evaluated the associations between arsenic metabolism with overall diabetes prevalence and with static and dynamic measures of insulin resistance among Mexican Americans living in Starr County, Texas.

METHODS: We utilized data from cross-sectional studies conducted in Starr County, Texas, from 2010-2014. A Mendelian randomization approach was utilized to evaluate the associations between arsenic metabolism and type 2 diabetes prevalence using the intronic variant in the arsenic methylating gene, rs9527, as the instrumental variable for arsenic metabolism. to further assess mechanisms for diabetes pathogenesis, proportions of the urinary arsenic metabolites were employed to assess the association between arsenic metabolism and insulin resistance among participants without diabetes. Urinary biomarkers of arsenic metabolites were modeled as individual proportions of the total. Arsenic metabolism was evaluated both with a static outcome of insulin resistance, homeostatic measure of assessment (HOMA-IR), and a dynamic measure of insulin sensitivity, Matsuda Index.

RESULTS: Among 475 Mexican American participants from Starr County, higher metabolism capacity for arsenic is associated with higher diabetes prevalence driven by worse insulin resistance. Presence of the minor T allele of rs9527 is independently associated with an increase in the proportion of monomethylated arsenic (MMA%) and is associated with an odds ratio of 0.50 (95% CI: 0.24, 0.90) for type 2 diabetes. This association was conserved after potential covariate adjustment. Furthermore, among participants without type 2 diabetes, the highest quartile of MMA% was associated with 22% (95% CI: -33.5%, -9.07%) lower HOMA-IR and 56% (95% CI: 28.3%, 91.3%) higher Matsuda Index for insulin sensitivity.

CONCLUSIONS: Arsenic metabolism capacity, indicated by a lower proportion of monomethylated arsenic, is associated with increased diabetes prevalence driven by an insulin resistant phenotype among Mexican Americans living in Starr County, Texas.


Arsenic, Methylation, Type 2 diabetes, Insulin resistance, Insulin sensitivity, Endocrine disruptor



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