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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 924549, 12 pages
Review Article

Mercury Toxicity on Sodium Pump and Organoseleniums Intervention: A Paradox

1Department of Biochemistry, Federal University of Technology, FUTA Road, PMB 704, Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria
2Departamento de Farmacobiología, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados, Sede Sur, Calzada de los Tenorios 235, Colonia Granjas Coapa, DF, 14330 México, Mexico

Received 9 April 2012; Accepted 1 July 2012

Academic Editor: João B. T. Rocha

Copyright © 2012 Ige Joseph Kade. 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.


Mercury is an environmental poison, and the damage to living system is generally severe. The severity of mercury poisoning is consequent from the fact that it targets the thiol-containing enzymes, irreversibly oxidizing their critical thiol groups, consequently leading to an inactivation of the enzyme. The Na+/K+-ATPase is a sulfhydryl protein that is sensitive to Hg2+ assault. On the other hand, organoseleniums are a class of pharmacologically promising compounds with potent antioxidant effects. While Hg2+ oxidizes sulfhydryl groups of Na+/K+-ATPase under in vitro and in vivo conditions, the organoselenium compounds inhibit Na+/K+-ATPase in vitro but enhance its activities under in vivo conditions with concomitant increase in the level of endogenous thiols. Paradoxically, it appears that these two thiol oxidants can be used to counteract one another under in vivo conditions, and this hypothesis serves as the basis for this paper.