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Am J Physiol. 1991 Oct;261(4 Pt 2):R1010-4.

Mercury from dental "silver" tooth fillings impairs sheep kidney function.

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Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


In humans Hg vapor is released from "silver" amalgam fillings that contain 50% Hg by weight. Previous studies show that when 12 such fillings are placed in sheep teeth, the kidneys will concentrate amalgam Hg at levels ranging from 5 to 10 micrograms Hg/g renal tissue 4-20 wk after placement. In the present study 12 occlusal fillings were placed in each of six adult female sheep under general anesthesia, using standard dental procedures. Glass ionomer occlusal fillings (12) were inserted in two control sheep. At several days before dental surgery, and at 30 and 60 days after placement of fillings, renal function was evaluated by plasma clearance of inulin and by plasma and urine electrolytes, urea, and proteins. An average plasma inulin clearance rate of 69.5 +/- 7.2 ml/min before amalgam placement was reduced to 32.3 +/- 8.1 ml/min by 30 days and remained low at 27.9 +/- 8.7 ml/min after 60 days. Inulin clearance did not change in controls. After amalgam placement urine concentration of albumin decreased from 93.0 +/- 20.5 to 30.1 +/- 15.3 mg/l and urine Na+ concentration increased steadily from 24.8 +/- 7.7 to 82.2 +/- 20.3 mmol/l at 60 days. Concentrations of K+, urea, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase, alkaline phosphatase, and total protein did not change significantly from 0 to 60 days in urine. Plasma levels of Na+, K+, urea, and albumin remained unchanged from 0 to 60 days after amalgam. Renal histology remained normal in amalgam-treated animals.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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