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Title: A systematic study of the disposition and metabolism of mercury species in mice after exposure to low levels of thimerosal (ethylmercury)

Thimerosal (TM) is an ethylmercury (etHg)-containing preservative used in some vaccines despite very limited knowledge on the kinetics and direct interaction/effects in mammals' tissues after exposure. Thus, this study aimed to evaluate the kinetics of Hg species in mice in a time course analysis after intramuscular injection of TM, by estimating Hg half-lives in blood and tissues. Mice were exposed to one single intramuscular dose of 20 µg of Hg as TM. Blood, brain, heart, kidney and liver were collected at 0.5 hour (h), 1 h, 8 h, 16 h, 144 h, 720 h and 1980 h after TM exposure (n=4). Hg species in animal tissues were identified and quantified by speciation analysis via liquid chromatography hyphenated with inductively coupled mass spectrometry (LC–ICP-MS). It was found that the transport of etHg from muscle to tissues and its conversion to inorganic Hg (inoHg) occur rapidly. Moreover, the conversion extent is modulated in part by the partitioning between EtHg in plasma and in whole blood, since etHg is rapidly converted in red cells but not in a plasma compartment. Furthermore, the dealkylation mechanism in red cells appears to be mediated by the Fenton reaction (hydroxyl radical formation). Interestingly, after 0.5 h ofmore » TM exposure, the highest levels of both etHg and inoHg were found in kidneys (accounting for more than 70% of the total Hg in the animal body), whereas the brain contributed least to the Hg body burden (accounts for <1.0% of total body Hg). Thirty days after TM exposure, most Hg had been excreted while the liver presented the majority of the remaining Hg. Estimated half-lives (in days) were 8.8 for blood, 10.7 for brain, 7.8 for heart, 7.7 for liver and 45.2 for kidney. Taken together, our findings demonstrated that TM (etHg) kinetics more closely approximates Hg{sup 2+} than methylmercury (meHg) while the kidney must be considered a potential target for etHg toxicity. - Highlights: • Ethylmercury is rapidly converted to inorganic mercury. • Hg substantially accumulates in kidney with a terminal half-life of 45.2 d. • The dealkylation of ethylmercury occurs in red blood cells but not in plasma. • Hydroxyl radical is probably the main effector of this dealkylation. • Kidney must be considered a potential target for ethylmercury toxicity.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;
  1. Laboratório de Toxicologia e Essencialidade de Metais, Faculdade de Ciências Farmacêuticas de Ribeirão Preto – USP, Avenida do Café, s/n, Monte Alegre, CEP 14040-903 Ribeirão Preto, SP (Brazil)
  2. (Brazil)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22447549
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Research; Journal Volume: 134; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2014 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
60 APPLIED LIFE SCIENCES; ANIMAL TISSUES; BLOOD CELLS; BODY BURDEN; BRAIN; DEALKYLATION; HALF-LIFE; HEART; HYDROXYL RADICALS; ICP MASS SPECTROSCOPY; INTRAMUSCULAR INJECTION; KIDNEYS; LIQUID COLUMN CHROMATOGRAPHY; LIVER; MERCURY; MERCURY IONS; METABOLISM; METHYLMERCURY; MICE; TOXICITY; VACCINES