Acute and Sublethal Effects of Ethylmercury Chloride on Chinese Rare Minnow (Gobiocypris rarus): Accumulation, Elimination, and Histological Changes

  • Dandan Cao
  • Bin He
  • Yongguang YinEmail author


Ethylmercury (EtHg) has been widely observed in the environment due to anthropogenic contamination and/or environmental ethylation of inorganic mercury. Herein, the acute and sublethal effect of EtHg chloride on Chinese rare minnow (Gobiocypris rarus) as a fish model was studied. EtHg chloride showed an obvious toxicity to 4-month-old Chinese rare minnow (LC50 24.8 µg L−1 (as Hg) at 24 h). Histological analysis revealed that acute EtHg exposure can induce necrosis, telangiectasis and exfoliation of epithelial cells in the gill, as well as edema, vacuoles, and pyknotic nuclei in hepatocytes. Sublethal dose exposure revealed a very high accumulation of EtHg in fish, which is subsequently metabolized to inorganic mercury and eliminated after depuration. A new mercury species, possibly diethylmercury, was also observed as the metabolite of EtHg in rare minnow. The present study provides useful information for assessing the risks of EtHg and understanding its bioaccumulation in aquatic organisms.


Ethylmercury Chinese rare minnow Histopathological change Bioaccumulation Elimination 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 21522705, 21777178), Key Projects for Frontier Sciences of CAS (QYZDB-SSW-DQC018), and the Youth Innovation Promotion Association of CAS (Grant No. 2016037).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Laboratory of Environmental Nanotechnology and Health, Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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