Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Role of nitric oxide in the cerebellar degeneration during methylmercury intoxication.

To investigate the role of nitric oxide in the cerebellar degeneration during methylmercury intoxication, interaction of the change in nitric oxide synthase activity and degeneration of the granular layer neurons was examined in rats after methylmercury administration. Both reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH)-diaphorase and anti-nitric oxide synthase antibody staining, and measurement of glutamate, and nitrite and nitrate levels in the cerebrospinal fluid were performed after oral administration of 5 mg/kg of methylmercury for 12 days. Nitric oxide synthase activity in the cerebellum was also assayed by monitoring the conversion of arginine to citrulline. Methylmercury levels in the blood and the cerebellum gradually increased up to day 13 after the initial methylmercury administration, and neurological disturbances, such as hindleg crossing and abnormal gait, were observed from day 17 after administration. Although a significant decrease in the number of granular layer neurons was recognized at day 84, no such decrease either in NADPH-diaphorase or anti-nitric oxide synthase antibody positive neurons was seen. Glutamate levels in the cerebrospinal fluid transiently increased at day 9 and finally decreased at day 84. Also a transient increase in both nitrite and nitrate levels in the cerebrospinal fluid and nitric oxide synthase activity in the cerebellum was seen prior to the start of degeneration of the granular layer neurons. These results suggest that nitric oxide may play an important role in the degeneration process of the granular layer neurons during methylmercury intoxication.

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