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Environ Int. 2018 Feb;111:309-315. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2017.11.001. Epub 2017 Nov 15.

Placental transfer and levels of mercury, selenium, vitamin E, and docosahexaenoic acid in maternal and umbilical cord blood.

Author information

1
Environmental Health Section, Department of Environmental Science and Epidemiology, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Japan; Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Kagoshima University Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Kagoshima, Japan. Electronic address: sakamoto@nimd.go.jp.
2
Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
3
Laboratory of Toxicology and Environmental Health, School of Medicine, IISPV, Universitat "Rovira i Virgili", Reus, Spain.
4
Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Kagoshima University Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Kagoshima, Japan.
5
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Akita University Graduate School of Medicine, Akita, Japan.

Abstract

Methylmercury (MeHg) is a neurotoxicant known to affect the developing fetal brain as a sensitive target organ. As most mercury (Hg) in blood is MeHg, total mercury (THg) levels in blood are used to estimate the body burden of MeHg. The nutrients selenium (Se), vitamin E, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are protective against MeHg toxicity. We compared maternal and cord blood concentrations of biochemical substances, THg and Se, vitamin E, DHA, and other elements, fatty acids, and amino acids in 54 Japanese mother-newborn pairs to elucidate the fetal risk of MeHg toxicity. Cord blood had higher hematocrit and amino acid values and lower concentrations of lipid components, including fatty acids compared with maternal blood. THg levels in cord blood (7.26ng/g) were 1.9 times higher than levels in maternal blood (3.79ng/g). Se concentrations in cord blood (176ng/g) were slightly higher than concentrations in maternal blood (156ng/g). Levels of vitamin E (0.31mg/dL) and DHA (58.8μg/mL) in cord blood were much lower than levels in maternal blood (1.38mg/dL and 147μg/mL, respectively). The ratios of Se/THg, vitamin E/THg, and DHA/THg in cord blood were lower than ratios in maternal blood. These results suggest that fetuses are at higher risk to MeHg toxicity.

KEYWORDS:

Cord blood; Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); Fetus; Methylmercury; Selenium; Vitamin E

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