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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 984546, 10 pages
Research Article

Activation of the Nrf2 Pathway by Inorganic Arsenic in Human Hepatocytes and the Role of Transcriptional Repressor Bach1

Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, Liaoning Provincial Key Laboratory of Arsenic Biological Effect and Poisoning, School of Public Health, China Medical University, 92 North 2nd Road, Heping District, Shenyang 110001, China

Received 16 November 2012; Revised 10 April 2013; Accepted 12 April 2013

Academic Editor: Mi-Kyoung Kwak

Copyright © 2013 Dan Liu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Previous studies have proved that the environmental toxicant, inorganic arsenic, activates nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) pathway in many different cell types. This study tried to explore the hepatic Nrf2 pathway upon arsenic treatment comprehensively, since liver is one of the major target organs of arsenical toxicity. Our results showed that inorganic arsenic significantly induced Nrf2 protein and mRNA expression in Chang human hepatocytes. We also observed a dose-dependent increase of antioxidant response element- (ARE-) luciferase activity. Both the mRNA and protein levels of NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) were all upregulated dramatically. On the other hand, entry and accumulation of Nrf2 protein in the nucleus, while exportting the transcriptional repressor BTB and CNC homology 1 (Bach1) from nucleus to cytoplasm, were also confirmed by western blot and immunofluorescence assay. Our results therefore confirmed the arsenic-induced Nrf2 pathway activation in hepatocytes and also suggested that the translocation of Bach1 was associated with the regulation of Nrf2 pathway by arsenic. Hepatic Nrf2 pathway plays indispensable roles for cellular defenses against arsenic hepatotoxicity, and the interplay of Bach1 and Nrf2 may be helpful to understand the self-defensive responses and the diverse biological effects of arsenicals.