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Arsenic and other metals: association with cytokine dysregulation and risk of Hepatitis E infection in pregnant women

Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is the leading global cause of acute viral hepatitis, particularly in Bangladesh and other parts of South Asia where seasonal floods contaminate drinking water supplies, causing large annual hepatitis E (HE) epidemics.

Despite a case-fatality rate of only 3.0% in the general population, pregnant women infected with HEV genotype 1 in South Asia suffer disproportionately elevated mortality (10-40%) for reasons that are unclear. Much of Bangladesh is also affected by high exposures to naturally occurring arsenic – a well-recognized toxicant known to cause inflammation and liver damage – via contaminated groundwater supplies.  My research  proposes an exploratory analysis of the role of arsenic and other metal exposures as predictors of cytokine dysregulation and, potentially, HE seroconversion in pregnancy using existing biospecimens and data from a longitudinal cohort study of pregnant women in Bangladesh (JiVitA Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition Research Project)