Rats were dosed with methylmercuric chloride, either by gastric gavage (5 × 10 mg kg-1 body weight over a 15-day period), or in their drinking water (20 mg methylmercuric chloride l-1 for 14 or 42 days). Localization of mercury within the cerebellum was performed with a silver physical development technique, and metallothionein with dinitrophenyl hapten-sandwich immunohistochemistry. Mercury was detected in structurally undamaged Purkinje neurones and adjacent Bergmann glial cells; no mercury was detected in granule cells even though these small cells nearest the Purkinje layer had a high incidence of pyknotic nuclei. In general, metallothionein was detected mainly in Bergmann glial cells, Purkinje cells, astrocytes and glial cells of white matter; no metallothionein was detected in granule cells. We hypothesized that the resistance of Purkinje cells to methylmercuric chloride reflects their ability to transform organic mercurials to inorganic mercury that, in turn, induces the synthesis of radical-scavenging metallothionein molecules.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology