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Toxicol In Vitro. 2008 Jun;22(4):927-34. doi: 10.1016/j.tiv.2008.01.012. Epub 2008 Feb 1.

Genotoxicity of thimerosal in cultured human lymphocytes with and without metabolic activation sister chromatid exchange analysis proliferation index and mitotic index.

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Mersin University, Faculty of Science and Letters, Department of Biology, 33343 Mersin, Turkey.


Thimerosal is an antiseptic containing 49.5% of ethyl mercury that has been used for years as a preservative in many infant vaccines and in flu vaccines. Thimerosal is an organic mercurial compound used as a preservative in biomedical preparations. In this study, we evaluated the genotoxic effect of thimerosal in cultured human peripheral blood lymphocytes using sister chromatid exchange analysis in culture conditions with and without S9 metabolic activation. This study is the first report investigating the genotoxic effects of thimerosal in cultured human peripheral blood lymphocyte cells using sister chromatid exchange analysis. An analysis of variance test (ANOVA) was performed to evaluate the results. Significant induction of sister chromatid exchanges was seen at concentrations between 0.2 and 0.6 microg/ml of thimerosal compared with negative control. A significant decrease (p<0.001) in mitotic index (MI) and proliferation index (PRI) as well as an increase in SCE frequency (p<0.001) was observed compared with control cultures. Our results indicate the genotoxic and cytotoxic effect of TH in cultured human peripheral blood lymphocytes at tested doses in cultures with/without S9 fraction.

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