Abstract Title:

Low levels of methylmercury induce DNA damage in rats: protective effects of selenium.

Abstract Source:

Arch Toxicol. 2009 Mar;83(3):249-54. Epub 2008 Aug 27. PMID: 18754101

Abstract Author(s):

Denise Grotto, Gustavo R M Barcelos, Juliana Valentini, Lusânia M G Antunes, José Pedro F Angeli, Solange C Garcia, Fernando Barbosa

Article Affiliation:

Departamento de Análises Clínicas, Toxicológicas e Bromatológicas, Faculdade de Ciências Farmacêuticas de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, Avenida do Café s/n, Campus Universitário da USP, 14040-903, Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil.


In this study we examined the possible antigenotoxic effect of selenium (Se) in rats chronically exposed to low levels of methylmercury (MeHg) and the association between glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activity and DNA lesions (via comet assay) in the same exposed animals. Rats were divided into six groups as follows: (Group I) received water; (Group II) received MeHg (100 mug/day); (Group III) received Se (2 mg/L drinking water); (Group IV) received Se (6 mg/L drinking water); (Group V) received MeHg (100 mug/day) and Se (2 mg/L drinking water); (Group VI) received MeHg (100 mug/day) and Se (6 mg/L drinking water). Total treatment time was 100 days. GSH-Px activity was determined spectrophotometrically and DNA damage was determined by comet assay. Mean GSH-Px activity in groups I, II, III, IV, V and VI were, respectively: 40.19 +/- 17.21; 23.63 +/- 6.04; 42.64 +/- 5.70; 38.50 +/- 7.15; 34.54 +/- 6.18 and 41.39 +/- 11.67 nmolNADPH/min/gHb. DNA damage was represented by a mean score from 0 to 300; the results for groups I, II, III, IV, V and VI were, respectively: 6.87 +/- 3.27; 124.12 +/- 13.74; 10.62 +/- 3.81; 13.25 +/- 1.76; 86.87 +/- 11.95 and 76.25 +/- 7.48. There was a significant inhibition of GSH-Px activity in group II compared with group I (P<0.05). Groups V and VI did not show a difference in enzyme activity compared with groups III and IV, showing the possible protective action of Se. Comet assay presented a significant difference in DNA migration between group II and group I (P<0.0001). Groups V and VI showed a significant reduction in MeHg-induced genotoxicity (P<0.001) when compared with group II. A negative correlation (r = -0.559, P<0.05) was found between GSH-Px activity and DNA lesion, showing that the greater the DNA damage, the lower the GSH-Px activity. Our findings demonstrated the oxidative and genotoxic properties of MeHg, even at low doses. Moreover, Se co-administration reestablished GSH-Px activity and reduced DNA damage.

Study Type : Animal Study

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