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Arch Toxicol. 1994;68(3):174-8.

Milk transfer and tissue uptake of mercury in suckling offspring after exposure of lactating maternal guinea pigs to inorganic or methylmercury.

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Department of Public Health, St. Marianna University School of Medicine, Kawasaki, Japan.


Maternal guinea pigs were injected with mercuric chloride (HgCl2; 1 mg Hg/kg body weight) or methylmercury (MeHg; 1 mg Hg/kg) 12 h after parturition, and exposure of the offspring to mercury (Hg) via breast milk were studied on days 3, 5 and 10 postpartum. Milk Hg concentrations were lower than maternal plasma Hg concentrations regardless of the form of Hg given to the dams. Milk Hg was higher in HgCl2-treated dams than in MeHg-treated dams. In MeHg-treated dams, MeHg was separately determined. While the ratio of MeHg to T-Hg decreased in the dams' plasma, it did not in the milk. There was a strong correlation between milk and plasma T-Hg concentrations in HgCl2 treated dams. In the milk of MeHg-treated dams, the plasma MeHg concentrations correlated better than did the plasma T-Hg concentrations. In the offspring, regardless of the chemical forms of Hg given to the dams, the highest Hg concentrations were found in the kidney, followed by the liver and the brain. Brain Hg concentrations were, however, significantly higher in the offspring of MeHg-treated dams than in those of HgCl2-treated dams. In addition, Hg levels in the major organs of the offspring of HgCl2-treated dams peaked on day 5 postpartum, while those of MeHg-treated dams did not show a significant decrease up to day 10 postpartum. These facts indicate that the two chemical forms of Hg were transferred to the offspring via the breast milk and were distributed differently, depending on the chemical form, to the offspring's tissues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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