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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2012, Article ID 949048, 11 pages
Review Article

Toxic Effects of Mercury on the Cardiovascular and Central Nervous Systems

1Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Fisiológicas, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, 29042-755 Vitória, ES, Brazil
2Curso de Fisioterapia, Universidade Federal do Pampa, 97050-460 Uruguaiana, RS, Brazil
3Programa de Pós-Graduação em Bioquímica, Universidade Federal do Pampa, 97050-460 Uruguaiana, RS, Brazil
4Hospital Universitário Cassiano Antônio de Morais, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, 29040-091 Vitória, ES, Brazil
5Departamento de Enfermagem, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, 29040-090 Vitória, ES, Brazil
6Departamento de Fisiologia e Biofísica, Universidade de São Paulo, 05508-900 São Paulo, SP, Brazil
7Departamento de Fisiologia, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, 28922 Alcorcón, Spain
8Departamento de Farmacología, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28029 Madrid, Spain
9Escola Superior de Ciências da Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Vitória, EMESCAM, 29045-402 Vitória, ES, Brazil

Received 3 April 2012; Accepted 15 May 2012

Academic Editor: Marcelo Farina

Copyright © 2012 Bruna Fernandes Azevedo 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.


Environmental contamination has exposed humans to various metal agents, including mercury. This exposure is more common than expected, and the health consequences of such exposure remain unclear. For many years, mercury was used in a wide variety of human activities, and now, exposure to this metal from both natural and artificial sources is significantly increasing. Many studies show that high exposure to mercury induces changes in the central nervous system, potentially resulting in irritability, fatigue, behavioral changes, tremors, headaches, hearing and cognitive loss, dysarthria, incoordination, hallucinations, and death. In the cardiovascular system, mercury induces hypertension in humans and animals that has wide-ranging consequences, including alterations in endothelial function. The results described in this paper indicate that mercury exposure, even at low doses, affects endothelial and cardiovascular function. As a result, the reference values defining the limits for the absence of danger should be reduced.