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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 254582, 12 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/254582
Research Article

Exposure to Low Dose of Cinnabar (a Naturally Occurring Mercuric Sulfide (HgS)) Caused Neurotoxicological Effects in Offspring Mice

1School of Chinese Medicine, College of Chinese Medicine, China Medical University, No. 91 Hsueh-Shih Road, Taichung 404, Taiwan
2Institute of Toxicology, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Section 1, Jen-Ai Road, Taipei 100, Taiwan
3Department of Otolaryngology, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Section 1, Jen-Ai Road, Taipei 100, Taiwan
4Institute of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Section 1, Jen-Ai Road, Taipei 100, Taiwan

Received 6 April 2012; Accepted 24 May 2012

Academic Editor: Marcelo Farina

Copyright © 2012 Chun-Fa Huang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Cinnabar, a naturally occurring mercuric sulfide (HgS), has long been used in Chinese mineral medicine for more than 2000 years. Although mercury is well-known for its toxicity, whether cinnabar induces neurotoxicity, especially in infants and children, is unknown. The purpose of this study was to explore the neurotoxic effects of low-dose of cinnabar (10 mg/kg/day) on developing mice. The results revealed neurobehavioral defects in F1-C-Cin group, which were associated with Hg accumulation, increased NOx levels in whole blood, and Na+/K+-ATPase activities in brain tissues. F1- and F2-Cin-V groups were found to increase brain Hg contents and prominent neurobehavioral defects compared with F1-C-V group, suggesting that the fetal brain was more susceptible to irreversible effects for cinnabar-induced damage. Moreover, F1- and F2-Cin-Cin groups had severely neurobehavioral dysfunctions, closely correlated with the further alteration of NOx levels and Na+/K+-ATPase activities than F1- and F2-C-Cin groups. Effects in F2-Cin-Cin group were more significant than those in F1-Cin-Cin group. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that exposure to low-dose of cinnabar during the perinatal and developmental stages results in irreversible and severe injuries of the neurotoxicity in offspring, and NOx and Na+/K+-ATPase activities may exist potential and useful biomarkers for neurotoxicity-induced by low-doses of mercuric compounds.