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Acta Neuropathol. 1998 Aug;96(2):185-90.

A stereological study of dorsal root ganglion cells and nerve root fibers from rats exposed to mercury vapor.

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Department of Neurobiology, Institute of Anatomy, University of Aarhus, Denmark.


Although mercury vapor is known to produce tremor and peripheral neuropathy, neuropathological studies of the effects of the vapor are few in number. The aim of the present study has been to evaluate the effect of mercury vapor on the morphology of the dorsal root ganglion and the spinal nerve roots. Adult male rats were exposed to mercury vapor for 33 days. The exposed rats developed somatic signs of intoxication and became increasingly irritable. The total numbers and volumes of A- and B-cell perikarya in the dorsal root ganglia, the total number of myelinated axons in the roots, and the cross-sectional areas of axon and myelin in the nerve roots were estimated using unbiased stereological principles. The mean cross-sectional area of myelin associated with nerve fibers in dorsal nerve roots of the exposed group was significantly reduced by 20% (2P=0.014). A tendency towards a reduction was seen in axon area of myelinated nerve fibers in the dorsal nerve roots (2P=0.087) and in the total numbers and mean volume of A-cell perikarya (2P = 0.059 and 2P=0.087, respectively). No differences between the two test groups were found for any of the parameters measured in B-cells and ventral nerve roots. It is concluded that mercury vapor, in a dose sufficient to produce intoxication, induces only minor changes in dorsal root ganglion and nerve roots in rats.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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