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Health risks from increases in methylmercury exposure.
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MedLine Citation:
PMID:  3908085     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Our present knowledge of the human health effects of methylmercury exposure is derived from study of major outbreaks of human poisonings in Japan and Iraq and experimental studies on primates. Methylmercury readily passes through such physiological barriers as the blood-brain barrier, blood-testes barrier, and the placenta. Its major pathological effects are on the nervous and reproductive systems and the developing embryo/fetus. The neurotoxicity of methylmercury is well established in both humans and non-human primates. Lesions in the cerebral and cerebellar gray matter consist of necrosis and lysis of neurons, phagocytosis and gliosis. The changes are most prominent in the deep sulci and may have a vascular component. A late effect is cerebral atrophy. At high dose levels the liver, kidneys, and other organs may also have degenerative changes. Although not yet described in humans, a major effect of exposure of female primates is an adverse effect on pregnancy. Maternal female M. fascicularis blood mercury levels above 1 ppm are associated with a decreased pregnancy rate and increased abortion rate. To date our experimental data lack sufficient numbers to detect infrequent pregnancy effects below 1 ppm. Preliminary studies also reveal that methylmercury may also decrease the number and function (swim speed) of sperm. Both human and primate studies demonstrate deleterious effects of methylmercury on the developing embryo/fetus. Autopsies on human and primate infants reveal retarded brain development and the occurrence of a cerebral palsy-like behavior in the newborns, whereas the mother may be free of signs and symptoms of methylmercury toxicity. The fetal blood level of mercury is higher than the maternal level.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
N K Mottet; C M Shaw; T M Burbacher
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Environmental health perspectives     Volume:  63     ISSN:  0091-6765     ISO Abbreviation:  Environ. Health Perspect.     Publication Date:  1985 Nov 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1986-02-10     Completed Date:  1986-02-10     Revised Date:  2010-09-13    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0330411     Medline TA:  Environ Health Perspect     Country:  UNITED STATES    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  133-40     Citation Subset:  IM    
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MeSH Terms
Cognition / drug effects
Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
Environmental Exposure
Fetal Death / chemically induced
Mental Retardation / chemically induced
Methylmercury Compounds / toxicity*
Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced
Pregnancy / drug effects
Sperm Motility / drug effects
Spermatogenesis / drug effects
Grant Support
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Methylmercury Compounds

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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Journal Information
Journal ID (nlm-ta): Environ Health Perspect
ISSN: 0091-6765
Article Information
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Print publication date: Month: 11 Year: 1985
Volume: 63First Page: 133 Last Page: 140
ID: 1568483
PubMed Id: 3908085

Health risks from increases in methylmercury exposure.
N K Mottet
C M Shaw
T M Burbacher

Article Categories:
  • Research Article

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