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Abstract

Biological methylation of arsenic was reported for the first time in 1933, when Challenger described the identification of trimethylarsine produced by moulds, grown in the presence of various arsenic compounds. Since then, several animal species including human beings have been shown able to methylate arsenic. So far, only the Marmoset monkey, is known not to methylate arsenic. In most species the methylation may be considered as a detoxication process. Although the mechanism for arsenic methylation in mammals is not fully elucidated, it seems clear that it takes place mainly in the liver, that it is enzymatically mediated and that the methyl groups are transferred from S-adenosylmethionine to arsenic in its lower oxidation state. The methylation varies to a great extent between species. Furthermore, it is influenced by several factors, such as chemical and physical form of absorbed arsenic, dose level time of exposure, route of exposure and nutritional status.

Additional information

Authors: VAHTER M NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE (SWEDEN)) MARAFANTE E JRC - ISPRA ESTAB. (ITALY) , NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE (SWEDEN));JRC - ISPRA ESTAB. (ITALY)
Bibliographic Reference: THE BIOLOGICAL METHYLATION OF HEAVY ELEMENTS, LONDON (UK), SEPT. 17-18, 1987 WRITE TO CEC LUXEMBOURG, DG XIII/A2, POB 1907 MENTIONING PAPER E 33540 ORA
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