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An Acad Bras Cienc. 1999;71(3 Pt 1):437-43.

Genotoxic effects of mercury on in vitro cultures of human cells.

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Departamento de Patologia, Universidade Federal do Pará (UFPA), Belém, PA.


Mercury is a highly deleterious environmental pollutant, with recognized mutagenic and teratogenic effects. Given this, we evaluated the changes induced in vitro by two mercury compounds (mercury chloride--MC--and methyl mercuric chloride--MMC) on the genetic) material of a human lymphoblastoid cell line (TK6) on the basis of both the frequency of mutations at the hprt locus, and the number of chromosomic anomalies. The frequencies of HPRT- mutants in the TK6 cell line following exposure to the mercury compounds are inconclusive with regard to a mutagenic effect. However, both mercury compounds exhibit a clear cytotoxic effect, which increases with dosage. There was also no statistically significant increase in the frequency of chromosomic bleakage or gaps, nor in the number of cells with chromosomic alterations in the lymphoblastoid line. Nevertheless, MMC did provoke a marked reduction in the frequency of mitosis, both on its own and in combination with MC.

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