© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Arsenic (As) induces pre-malignant and malignant dermatological lesions, non-dermatological health effects and cancers in humans. Senescence involves telomere length changes and acquisition of senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), which promotes carcinogenesis. Though in vitro studies have shown that As induces senescence, population based studies are lacking. We investigated the arsenic-induced senescence, telomere length alteration and its contribution towards development of As-induced skin cancer. The study participants included 60 each of As-exposed individuals with skin lesion (WSL), without skin lesions (WOSL) and 60 unexposed controls. Exposure assessment of drinking water and urine was done. SA β-gal activity, ELISA, and quantification of senescence proteins, alternative lengthening of telomere (ALT) associated proteins and telomerase activity were performed. Relative telomere length (RTL) was determined by qPCR. A significantly higher number of senescent cells, over-expression of p53 and p21 were observed in the As-exposed individuals when compared to unexposed. SASP markers, MMP-1/MMP-3 were significantly higher in the WSL but not IL-6/IL-8. A significant increase of RTL was observed in the WSL group, which was telomerase-independent but exhibited an over-expression of ALT associated proteins TRF-1 and TRF-2 with higher increase in TRF-2. An increased risk for developing As-induced skin lesions was found for individuals having RTL greater than 0.827 (odds ratio, 13.75; 95% CI: 5.66-33.41; P < 0.0001). Arsenic induces senescence in vivo, but the SASP markers are not strictly over-expressed in the As-induced skin lesion group, whereas telomerase-independent elongation of telomere length might be useful for predicting the risk of development of As-induced skin lesions.