Sirtuins as molecular targets, mediators, and protective agents in metal-induced toxicity

Alexey A. Tinkov, Thuy T. Nguyen, Abel Santamaria, Aaron B. Bowman, Aleksandra Buha Djordjevic, Monica Maria Bastos Paoliello, Anatoly V. Skalny, Michael Aschner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Metal dyshomeostasis, and especially overexposure, is known to cause adverse health effects due to modulation of a variety of metabolic pathways. An increasing body of literature has demonstrated that metal exposure may affect SIRT signaling, although the existing data are insufficient. Therefore, in this review we discuss the available data (PubMed-Medline, Google Scholar) on the influence of metal overload on sirtuin (SIRT) signaling and its association with other mechanisms involved in metal-induced toxicity. The existing data demonstrate that cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg), arsenic (As), lead (Pb), aluminium (Al), hexavalent chromium (CrVI), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), and copper (Cu) can inhibit SIRT1 activity. In addition, an inhibitory effect of Cd, Pb, As, and Fe on SIRT3 has been demonstrated. In turn, metal-induced inhibition of SIRT was shown to affect deacetylation of target proteins including FOXO, PGC1α, p53 and NF-kB. Increased acetylation downregulates PGC1α signaling pathway, resulting in cellular altered redox status and increased susceptibility to oxidative stress, as well as decreased mitochondrial biogenesis. Lower rates of LKB1 deacetylation may be responsible for metal-induced decreases in AMPK activity and subsequent metabolic disturbances. A shift to the acetylated FOXO results in increased expression of pro-apoptotic genes which upregulates apoptosis together with increased p53 signaling. Correspondingly, decreased NF-kB deacetylation results in upregulation of target genes of proinflammatory cytokines, enzymes, and cellular adhesion molecules thus promoting inflammation. Therefore, alterations in sirtuin activity may at least partially mediate metal-induced metabolic disturbances that have been implicated in neurotoxicity, nephrotoxicity, cardiotoxicity, and other toxic effects of heavy metals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2263-2278
Number of pages16
JournalArchives of Toxicology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Antioxidants
  • Apoptosis
  • Inflammation
  • Metals
  • Mitochondrial biogenesis
  • Sirtuin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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