JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Neurotoxicological mechanism of methylmercury induced by low-dose and long-term exposure in mice: oxidative stress and down-regulated Na+/K(+)-ATPase involved.

Toxicology Letters 2008 Februrary 16
Methylmercury (MeHg), a potent neurotoxicant, easily passes through the blood-brain barrier (BBB), accumulates in the brain regions and causes severe irreversible damage. However, the neurotoxic effects and action mechanisms of MeHg are still unclear, especially in low-dose and long-term exposure. In this study, we attempted to explore the toxic effects of low-dose MeHg (0.05 mg/kg/day), which was the possible exposed dose by ingestion in MeHg-contaminated areas, on the time course of changes in locomotor activities and auditory brainstem response (ABR) system after administration for 7 consecutive weeks in mice. The results showed that the retention time on the rotating rod (60 rpm) was preferentially decreased after 1-week oral administration with MeHg. The locomotor activities parameters of ambulatory distances and stereotype-1 episodes were significantly increased and vertical-plane entries were progressively decreased after MeHg exposure in 3 consecutive weeks. Gradually progressive abnormality of ABR (increase in hearing thresholds, prolonged absolute and interwave latencies) was found during 4-6 weeks administration of MeHg. These impairments correlated with significant Hg accumulation and biochemical alterations in brain regions and/or other tissues, including the increase of lipid peroxidation (LPO) production, influence of Na+/K(+)-ATPase activities and nitric oxide (NO) levels were found. These findings provide evidence that the signaling of oxidative stress/Na+/K(+)-ATPase/NO plays a role in the underlying mechanisms of the neurotoxic effects induced by low-dose and long-term exposure of MeHg.

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