Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Dev Comp Immunol. 2003 Sep;27(8):735-47.

Contrasting changes of sensitivity by lymphocytes and neutrophils to mercury in developing grey seals.

Author information

  • 1INRS-Institut Armand Frappier Sante Humaine, 245 Hymus Blvd, Pointe-Claire, Que, Canada H9R 3G6.


Mercury is the principal metal contaminant in the St Lawrence Estuary. It impairs humoral, cellular and non-specific immune responses in many species. Since the immune system of juvenile seals is immature, it should react differently to the effects of contamination compared to that of mature animals. Phagocytosis and lymphoblastic transformation responses have been evaluated in the peripheral blood leukocytes of eight juvenile grey seals at different intervals of time over 11 weeks. Dose-response curves of 10(-9)-10(-3)M of methylmercury chloride have also been performed in vitro for evaluation of these two immune functions. The immune response of grey seals differs during their development. The phagocytosis response increased from the 2nd to 5th week post-weaning and then reached a plateau. As for the lymphoblastic transformation response, it was stable from the 2nd to the 3rd week post-weaning, increased significantly at week 4 post-weaning and then reached a plateau. These data suggest that these animals should be particularly vulnerable to infections, diseases and parasites before the 5th week post-weaning. Furthermore, mercury decreased the immune response, and age of seals had an effect on cell sensitivity to mercury. Concentrations of 10(-5)M of methylmercury chloride decreased phagocytosis and lymphoblastic transformation responses. Phagocytosis is more affected by MeHgCl contamination before this immune function reaches complete development which occurs at week 5 post-weaning. On the other hand, lymphoblastic transformation is more affected by this contaminant after its complete development which occurs at week 4 post-weaning.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk