Postnatal Methylmercury Exposure Induces Hyperlocomotor Activity and Cerebellar Oxidative Stress in Mice: Dependence on the Neurodevelopmental Period
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During the early postnatal period the central nervous system (CNS) is extremely sensitive to external agents. The present study aims at the investigation of critical phases where methylmercury (MeHg) induces cerebellar toxicity during the suckling period in mice. Animals were treated with daily subcutaneous injections of MeHg (7 mg/kg of body weight) during four different periods (5 days each) at the early postnatal period: postnatal day (PND) 1–5, PND 6–10, PND 11–15, or PND 16–20. A control group was treated with daily subcutaneous injections of a 150 mM NaCl solution (10 ml/kg of body weight). Subjects exposed to MeHg at different postnatal periods were littermate. At PND 35, behavioral tests were performed to evaluate spontaneous locomotor activity in the open field and motor performance in the rotarod task. Biochemical parameters related to oxidative stress (levels of glutathione and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances, as well as glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase activity) were evaluated in cerebellum. Hyperlocomotor activity and high levels of cerebellar thiobarbituric acid reactive substances were observed in animals exposed to MeHg during the PND 11–15 or PND 16–20 periods. Cerebellar glutathione reductase activity decreased in MeHg-exposed animals. Cerebellar glutathione peroxidase activity was also decreased after MeHg exposure and the lowest enzymatic activity was found in animals exposed to MeHg during the later days of the suckling period. In addition, low levels of cerebellar glutathione were found in animals exposed to MeHg during the PND 16–20 period. The present results show that the postnatal exposure to MeHg during the second half of the suckling period causes hyperlocomotor activity in mice and point to this phase as a critical developmental stage where mouse cerebellum is a vulnerable target for the neurotoxic and pro-oxidative effects of MeHg.
KeywordsDevelopmental toxicity hyperlocomotion methylmercury neurotoxicity oxidative stress postnatal exposure
This study was supported by grants from CNPq to M. Farina (475329/2004–0). J. Strigari was a recipient of a CNPq/PIBIC fellowship.
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