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Toxicol In Vitro. 2001 Dec;15(6):649-54.

Role of ascorbic acid on mercuric chloride-induced genotoxicity in human blood cultures.

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Cytogenetics Laboratory, Department of Zoology, University School of Sciences, Gujarat University, 380009, Ahmedabad, India.


Efforts are made to find therapeutic agents capable of minimizing genotoxicity of various natural and man-made compounds. The genotoxicity induced by mercury compounds remains controversial. Therefore we have investigated the genotoxic effect of mercuric chloride (MC; HgCl(2)) at three concentrations (1.052, 5.262 and 10.524 microM) and role of L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) at a concentration of 9.734 microM on MC-treated short-term human leucocyte cultures. We assessed the proliferative rate index (PRI), sister chromatid exchange (SCE) and chromosomal aberrations (CAS) in control and MC-treated cultures with and without vitamin C supplementation. The results showed that MC has no effect on cell-cycle kinetics, but the frequency of SCE/cell was significantly higher in a dose-dependent manner than control values. HgCl(2) also significantly induced C-anaphases (abnormal mitosis) in blood cultures. These effects were prevented by the addition of vitamin C to MC-treated cultures. The data indicate the mutagenic activity of MC and the protective role of vitamin C on mercury-induced genotoxicity in human blood cultures is probably due to its strong antioxidant and nucleophilic nature.

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