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Effects of endogenous and exogenous thiols on the distribution of mercurial compounds in mouse tissues

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The distribution of mercury, a well known environmental contaminant, has been evaluated in detail in several species of animals; however, limited information is available in the mouse. Considerable species differences exist in the distribution of various forms of mercury. In the current study, methylmercuric chloride or mercuric chloride were injected ip in mice at two dose levels. The concentration of mercury in various organs was determined by cold-vapor atomic absorption spectrometry. After the administration of methylmercury, the concentration of mercury increased in brain up to 3 days, despite a declining mercury content in blood. The first-order rate of mercury uptake in brain was independent of the dose of methylmercury. In blood, methylmercury was largely confined to erythrocytes. Mercury concentrations in liver and kidney correlated with those in the blood. Mercuric chloride was distributed equally between erythrocytes and plasma in blood. Mice receiving mercuric chloride did not have appreciable levels of mercury in the brain throughout the sampling period. Coadministration of L-cysteine with mercuric chloride reduced mercury levels in the liver with no effect on brain concentrations. Glutathione depletion by diethylmaleate increased mercury concentration in brain after methylmercury treatment, whereas a decrease in kidney mercury concentration was observed. The results suggested that thiol compounds may not facilitate the entry of mercuric ion into the brain but can alter the distribution in other organs.

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Correspondence to R. P. Sharma.

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Aihara, M., Sharma, R.P. Effects of endogenous and exogenous thiols on the distribution of mercurial compounds in mouse tissues. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 15, 629–636 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01054909

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  • Mercury
  • Mercury Concentration
  • Methylmercury
  • Mercury Level
  • Mercuric Chloride