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Bioinorg Chem. 1978;8(2):107-1,4.

The mobility of methylmercury in biological systems.


Toxicology studies indicate that methylmercury in humans and other species is bonded to sulfhydryl ligands and that the methylmercury in such complexes is labile even though their thermodynamic stability is large. It is shown in this paper that bimolecular nucleophilic displacement of complexed ligand by sulfhydryl-deprotonated ligand is the major pathway for ligand exchange at physiological pH, while at the pH of the stomach the proton-assisted dissociation of the complex is the predominant means by which exchange occurs. The dynamic and equilibrium aspects of the distribution of methylmercury between chloride and sulfhydryl ligands under the solution conditions of the stomach are also considered with respect to a possible role for lipid-soluble CH3HgCl in the absorption of methylmercury from the stomach.

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