This study aimed to clarify whether glutathione (GSH) plays a role in the hepatobiliary transport of arsenic. For this purpose, the biliary excretion of 74As was measured in urethaneanaesthetized rats for 2hr after the administration of labelled sodium arsenite (50 μmol/kg, i. v.) or arsenate (150 μmol/kg, i.v.) and under the influence of sulfobromophthalein (BSP), indocyanine green (ICG) or diethyl maleate (DEM) which are known to diminish hepatobiliary transport of GSH. Although the biliary excretion of arsenic was different after arsenite and arsenate administration in terms of quantity (19% vs 6% of dose in 2 hr, respectively) and time course, arsenic excretion responded similarly to BSP (50 μmol/kg, i.v.), ICG (25 μmol/kg, i.v.) or DEM (4 mmol/kg, i.p.) irrespective of the injected arsenical. Initially the biliary excretion of arsenic in rats injected with either arsenite or arsenate was significantly reduced, but then moderately increased by BSP and, more lastingly, depressed by ICG, whereas it was virtually abolished by DEM. The responses of arsenic excretion to BSP, ICG and DEM were related, both proportionally and temporally, to the effects exerted by these agents on the hepatobiliary transport of GSH, as assessed by the biliary excretion of non-protein thiols. These findings indicate that the biliary excretion of arsenic after the administration of either arsenite or arsenate is dependent on the hepatobiliary transport of GSH. Transport of arsenic as a GSH complex may account for the GSH dependence of biliary arsenic excretion.
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