Arsenic and Immune Response to Infection During Pregnancy and Early Life

Sarah E. Attreed, Ana Navas-Acien, Christopher D. Heaney

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: Arsenic, a known carcinogen and developmental toxicant, is a major threat to global health. While the contribution of arsenic exposure to chronic diseases and adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes is recognized, its ability to impair critical functions of humoral and cell-mediated immunity—including the specific mechanisms in humans—is not well understood. Arsenic has been shown to increase risk of infectious diseases that have significant health implications during pregnancy and early life. Here, we review the latest research on the mechanisms of arsenic-related immune response alterations that could underlie arsenic-associated increased risk of infection during the vulnerable periods of pregnancy and early life. Recent Findings: The latest evidence points to alteration of antibody production and transplacental transfer as well as failure of T helper cells to produce IL-2 and proliferate. Summary: Critical areas for future research include the effects of arsenic exposure during pregnancy and early life on immune responses to natural infection and the immunogenicity and efficacy of vaccines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-243
Number of pages15
JournalCurrent environmental health reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Arsenic exposure
  • Children
  • Immune response
  • Immunotoxicity
  • Infection
  • Newborns
  • Pregnant women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Arsenic and Immune Response to Infection During Pregnancy and Early Life'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this