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Chem Biol Interact. 1975 Oct;11(4):235-43.

Mercury inhibition of fatty acid synthesis in chicks.


Male chicks were fed a commercial ration and were given drinking water which contained 0, 50, 100, 150, 200 or 300 mug of mercury/ml as mercuric chloride from hatching to 3 weeks of age. In one experiment, the mercuric chloride was administered by injection into the abdominal cavity rather than in the drinking water. At 3 weeks the chicks were killed, and the livers were removed and weighed. The activity of fatty acid synthetase in the 800 X gav supernatant fractions of the liver homogenates and in vivo incorporation of [14C]acetate into liver and carcass fatty acids and respiratory 14CO2 was determined as indicated. Administration of mercury at a treatment level of 300 mug/ml of drinking water depressed growth, feed and water consumption, liver weight, hepatic fatty acid synthetase activity, and in vivo incorporation of [14C]acetate into liver and carcass fatty acids, and increased the production of respiratory 14CO2 as compared with controls. In experiments in which graded doses of mercury were administered, body weights, liver weights, and feed and water intakes of the chicks receiving 0, 50 and 100 mug of mercury/ml of drinking water were similar to each other, but these parameters were severely depressed by 200 mug of mercury/ml of drinking water. Mercury caused a dose-related decrease of fatty acid synthetase activity. Incorporation of [14C]acetate into carcass fatty acid was depressed by 50 and 200 mug of mercury/ml of drinking water; incorporation into liver fatty acids and production of respiratory 14CO2 was not affected by mercury. Intra-abdominal injection of 6 mg of mercury/100 g body weight (as mercuric chloride) into well alimented chicks depressed hepatic fatty acid synthetase activity at 1 h post-injection. The data are consistent with the hypothesis that a portion of the effects of mercury on fatty acid synthesis are direct rather than a secondary effect of inanition.

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