Diet's role in the toxicity of inorganic arsenic (iAs): A journey from soil to children's mouth

Letizia Da Sacco, Antonella Baldassarre, Andrea Masotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Arsenic is widely distributed in the environment, particularly in soil. Absorption of arsenic and other metalloids from soil can alter the nutritional composition of some foods such as rice and vegetables. Rice has been found to contain a high amount of inorganic arsenic (iAs) that the plant accumulates from soil. A diet enriched of rice and rice based foods, such as in the case of children affected by celiac disease, can be therefore a toxicological issue. Vegetables are rich in antioxidants and folic acid that contribute to minimize some arsenic-induced toxic effects. Therefore, diet appears as a crucial determinant in the axis soil-food-human health. We preliminarily investigated the As exposure effects in in vitro models and we identified the principal interactors (mainly genes) involved in As-induced toxicity linked to specific metabolic pathways. We suggested that As-exposure and toxicity are more generally linked to diet and that diet can have a role in modulating and mitigating these toxic effects. In conclusion, we suggested that a more integrated view of 'exposure' to toxic elements should also include other factors, such as the diet contribution, other than environmental and toxicological data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-51
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Geochemical Exploration
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


  • Brassicaceae
  • Children's health
  • Diet
  • Folic acid
  • Inorganic arsenic
  • Rice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economic Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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