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Neurotoxicology. 2011 Jan;32(1):116-22. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2010.11.001. Epub 2010 Nov 11.

Acetylcholinesterase activity and antioxidant capacity of zebrafish brain is altered by heavy metal exposure.

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Laboratório de Neuroquímica e Psicofarmacologia, Faculdade de Biociências, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Avenida Ipiranga, 6681, 90619-900 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.


Pollution is a world problem with immeasurable consequences. Heavy metal compounds are frequently found as components of anthropogenic pollution. Here we evaluated the effects of the treatment with cadmium acetate, lead acetate, mercury chloride, and zinc chloride in acetylcholinesterase activity and gene expression pattern, as well as the effects of these treatments in antioxidant competence in the brain of an aquatic and well-established organism for toxicological analysis, zebrafish (Danio rerio, Cyprinidae). Mercury chloride and lead acetate promoted a significant decrease in acetylcholinesterase activity whereas they did not alter the gene expression pattern. In addition, the antioxidant competence was decreased after exposure to mercury chloride. The data presented here allowed us to hypothesize a signal transmission impairment, through alterations in cholinergic transmission, and also in the antioxidant competence of zebrafish brain tissue as some of the several effects elicited by these pollutants.

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