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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1995 Jun;132(2):325-33.

Autometallographic determination of inorganic mercury distribution in the cortex of the calcarine sulcus of the monkey Macaca fascicularis following long-term subclinical exposure to methylmercury and mercuric chloride.

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Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, USA.


The distribution of accumulated inorganic mercury deposits in the cortex of the calcarine sulcus of adult female Macaca fascicularis following long-term subclinical exposure to methyl-mercury (MeHg) and mercuric chloride (inorganic mercury-IHg) has been determined by autometallography. Four groups of monkeys were exposed to MeHg (50 micrograms Hg/kg body wt/day) by mouth for 6, 12, and 18 months or 12 months followed by 6 months without exposure (clearance group). A fifth group of monkeys was administered inorganic mercury (as HgCl2; 200 micrograms Hg/kg body wt/day) for 3 months by constant rate intravenous infusion via an indwelling catheter. Staining of IHg deposits in the MeHg-exposed groups increased for all cell types with increased length of exposure. The astrocytes and microglia in the MeHg exposure groups contained the largest deposits of IHg. Neurons in the 6-month MeHg exposure group were either not labeled or contained very fine deposits of IHg. The frequency of labeled neurons increased somewhat in the 12-month and clearance exposure groups. Virtually all neurons in the 18-month exposure group contained labeled deposits of IHg; however, these total deposits were considerably smaller than those present within the astrocytes and microglia. The majority of endothelial cells and pericytes did not contain notable mercury deposits, although scattered individual cells were heavily labeled. Labeled oligodendrocytes were relatively rare in all MeHg-exposed groups. Gitter cells, primarily located in a perivascular position, were common in the 12-month, 18-month, and clearance groups and many of these were found to be heavily labeled. The staining of mercury deposits in the IHg-exposed animals was low compared to the MeHg-exposed groups. The astrocytes and microglia were the primary cell types labeled. It is concluded that the astrocytes, and possibly microglia, are the primary location of the demethylation of MeHg into IHg within the cortex of the calcarine sulcus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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