AbstractBackground: Arsenic is a significant global environmental health problem. Exposure to arsenic in early life has been shown to increase the rate of respiratory infections during infancy, reduce childhood lung function and increase the rates of bronchiectasis in early adulthood.
Objectives: We aimed to determine if early life exposure to arsenic exacerbates the response to early life influenza infection.
Methods: C57BL/6 mice were exposed to arsenic in utero and throughout post-natal life. At 1 week of age a subgroup of mice were infected with influenza A. The acute and long term effects of arsenic exposure on viral clearance, inflammation, lung structure and lung function were assessed.
Results: Early life arsenic exposure reduced the clearance of and exacerbated the inflammatory response to influenza A, and resulted in acute and long term changes in lung mechanics and airway structure.
Conclusions: Increased susceptibility to respiratory infections combined with exaggerated inflammatory responses throughout early life may contribute to the development of bronchiectasis in arsenic exposed populations.