Lipidomics in Heavy Metals Research

Heavy metals, such as arsenic and mercury, are of high environmental concern owing to their persistent and bioaccumulative nature. These contaminants are already in their elemental forms and, therefore, cannot be broken down by conventional means such as chemical, microbial, or photolytic degradation. Recent studies have used lipidomics to highlight the effects of heavy metals on various systems and tissues.

As a worldwide health problem, arsenic exposure is associated with numerous human diseases, including diabetes, neurological disorders, dermal diseases, and various types of cancer. The relationship between arsenic exposure and cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) has been highly analyzed, and accumulating evidence indicates that arsenic exposure is associated with the increased morbidity and mortality of multiple CVDs, including coronary heart disease, stroke, and atherosclerosis.

For example, arsenic treatment has been linked to serum hypertriglyceridemia and hypercholesterolemia in mice, elevated oxylipins in rat liver and mouse serum, and found that three specific lipid molecules (sphingomyelin d36:2, phosphatidylethanolamine 18:2/22:6 and phosphatidylethanolamine 36:3) may be used as biomarkers for the detection of neurotoxicity from realgar, an arsenic-containing Chinese medicine (Fig1).

The effect of realgar on lipid profiles in the cerebral cortexFig1. The effect of realgar on lipid profiles in the cerebral cortex (Zhang, Weiwei.; et al, 2020)

The behavioral test of the mice before and after lead exposure was conducted to see the effect of lead exposure on fatty acid composition of the mice' brain. The lead exposure led to changes in disease-related behavior of the mice. Also, the lead exposure induced significant alterations of fatty acid profile (C16:0, C 18:0, and C 18:1) in brain of the mice, implicated in pathology of psychiatric diseases.

Lipid profiles for control and Pb administered miceFig2. Lipid profiles for control and Pb administered mice (Jung, Jong-Min.; et al, 2017)

In conclusion, the adoption of novel lipidomics strategies has tremendous potential in environmental toxicology. With decades of operational experience and technology platform, Creative Proteomics provides reliable, rapid, and cost-effective untargeted lipidomics and targeted lipidomics services based on GC/LC-MS and shot-gun methods for environmental toxicology research (Heavy Metals).

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  1. Zhang, Weiwei.; et al. Identification of neurotoxicity markers induced by realgar exposure in the mouse cerebral cortex using lipidomics. Journal of hazardous materials. 2020, 389: 121567.
  2. Jung, Jong-Min.; et al. The effect of lead exposure on fatty acid composition in mouse brain analyzed using pseudo-catalytic derivatization. Environmental Pollution. 2017, 222: 182-190.
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