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Chronic Exposure of Adult Rats to Low Doses of Methylmercury Induced a State of Metabolic Deficit in the Somatosensory Cortex

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journal contribution
posted on 2013-11-01, 00:00 authored by Hang-Kin Kong, Ming-Hung Wong, Hing-Man Chan, Samuel Chun-Lap Lo
Because of the ever-increasing bioaccumulation of methylmercury (MeHg) in the marine food chain, human consumers are exposed to low doses of MeHg continually through seafood consumption. Epidemiological studies strongly suggest that chronic prenatal exposure to nanomolar of MeHg has immense negative impacts on neurological development in neonates. However, effects of chronic exposure to low doses (CELDs) of MeHg in adult brains on a molecular level are unknown. The current study aims to investigate the molecular effects of CELD of MeHg on adult somatosensory cortex in a rat model using proteomic techniques. Young adult rats were fed with a low dose of MeHg (40 μg/kg body weight/day) for a maximum of 12 weeks. Whole proteome expression of the somatosensory cortex (S1 area) of normal rats and those with CELD to MeHg were compared. Levels of MeHg, total calcium, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and pyruvate were also measured. Comparative proteomic studies of the somatosensory cortexes revealed that 94 proteins involved in the various metabolic processes (including carbohydrate metabolism, generation of precursors for essential metabolites, energy, proteins, cellular components for morphogenesis, and neurotransmission) were down-regulated. Consequently, levels of important end products of active metabolism including ATP, pyruvate, and total calcium were also found to be significantly reduced concomitantly. Our results showed that CELD of MeHg induced a state of metabolic deficit in the somatosensory cortex of adult rats.