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Strain difference in mercury excretion in methylmercury-treated mice

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The strain differences in mercury excretion and organ distribution after administration of methylmercuric chloride (5 mg/kg) were studied in male mice of four strains, C57BL/6N, BALB/cA, C3H/HeN and AKR. The urinary excretion rate of mercury for 5 days following administration was 3.9–4.7 times higher in the C57BL strain than in the other three strains, whereas the mercury level in feces was highest in the AKR strain. Although the blood mercury concentration in the C57BL strain was almost half that in the others up to the 5th day, the plasma levels did not vary so widely. C57BL showed the highest ratio of plasma to whole blood mercury level, which was thought to originate from the lower affinity of methylmercury for hemoglobin. The variation of the plasma/whole blood ratios was rather small throughout the experimental period in each strain examined. In the C57BL strain, the mercury levels in brain, liver, kidney and blood were significantly lower on and after the 5th day than in the other three strains, probably because of the rapid elimination of body mercury into urine, but the mercury uptake by the brain and kidney 5 min after administration was at a rather higher rate than in the other strains. On the other hand, the highest tissue levels were shown by the C3H strain in the brain and liver, and by the BALB/c strain in the kidney. It was suggested that in the C57BL strain, the higher mercury distribution in plasma and rapid uptake by the kidney might result in higher urinary excretion.

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Correspondence to Akira Yasutake.

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Yasutake, A., Hirayama, K. Strain difference in mercury excretion in methylmercury-treated mice. Arch Toxicol 59, 99–102 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00286731

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Key words

  • Methylmercury
  • Excretion
  • Distribution
  • Strain difference
  • Mouse