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Publication Detail

Title: The role of intracellular glutathione in methylmercury-induced toxicity in embryonic neuronal cells.

Authors: Ou, Y C; White, C C; Krejsa, C M; Ponce, R A; Kavanagh, T J; Faustman, E M

Published In Neurotoxicology, (1999 Oct)

Abstract: Previous studies indicate that the ability of cells to up-regulate levels of intracellular glutathione (GSH) synthesis may determine their sensitivity to MeHg exposure. The purpose of the current study is two-fold. First, we determined whether the vulnerability of the developing central nervous system (CNS) to MeHg lies in its intracellular GSH content. The intracellular GSH content and the activity of gamma-glutamyl cysteine synthetase (GCS) were determined with and without MeHg exposure in primary cultures of rat embryonic CNS cells. In addition, the effect of GSH modulation on MeHg-induced cytotoxicity was determined. Second, we characterized the mechanism of GCS regulation, initially by studying the GCS heavy chain subunit (GCS-HC). Primary embryonic limb bud cells were used as a reference cell type for comparing the response of CNS cells. The results indicate that constitutive intracellular GSH content, GCS activity, and GCS-HC mRNA and protein levels of CNS cells were approximately ten-, two-, five-, and ten-fold higher, respectively, than those in limb bud cells. A dose-dependent increase in GSH levels and GCS activity was observed in CNS and limb bud cells following 1 and 2 microM MeHg exposure for 20 hr. Further characterization of GCS up-regulation in CNS cells showed that the increase in GCS activity following MeHg exposure, unlike limb bud cells, was not accompanied by an elevation of GCS-HC mRNA and protein levels. Pretreatment with N-acetylcysteine led to a significant increase in intracellular GSH, while L-buthionine-(S,R)-sulfoximine (BSO) resulted in decreased GSH levels, however neither pretreatment had a significant impact on MeHg-induced cytotoxicity in either cell type. Our results suggest that although oxidative stress may mediate aspects of MeHg toxicity, disruption of GSH homeostasis alone is not responsible for the sensitivity of embryonic CNS cells to MeHg.

PubMed ID: 10591515 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: Acetylcysteine/pharmacology; Aminoacyltransferases/biosynthesis; Animals; Buthionine Sulfoximine/pharmacology; Cell Differentiation/drug effects; Central Nervous System/embryology; Central Nervous System/pathology*; Embryo, Mammalian/cytology*; Embryo, Mammalian/drug effects; Enzyme Inhibitors/pharmacology; Extremities/embryology; Extremities/innervation; Flow Cytometry; Free Radical Scavengers/pharmacology; Glutathione/physiology*; Homeostasis/physiology; Methylmercury Compounds/toxicity*; Neurons/drug effects*; Neurons/pathology; Oxidative Stress/physiology; Pyrazoles; RNA, Messenger/biosynthesis; Rats; Rats, Sprague-Dawley; Up-Regulation/drug effects

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