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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 867069, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/867069
Review Article

Biomarkers of Mercury Exposure in the Amazon

Evandro Chagas Institute (IEC), Health Surveillance Secretariat (SVS), 660990 Belém do Pará, PA, Brazil

Received 20 October 2013; Accepted 8 April 2014; Published 27 April 2014

Academic Editor: Michael Mahler

Copyright © 2014 Nathália Santos Serrão de Castro and Marcelo de Oliveira Lima. 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

Mercury exposure in the Amazon has been studied since the 1980s decade and the assessment of human mercury exposure in the Amazon is difficult given that the natural occurrence of this metal is high and the concentration of mercury in biological samples of this population exceeds the standardized value of normality established by WHO. Few studies have focused on the discovery of mercury biomarkers in the region’s population. In this way, some studies have used genetics as well as immunological and cytogenetic tools in order to find a molecular biomarker for assessing the toxicological effect of mercury in the Amazonian population. Most of those studies focused attention on the relation between mercury exposure and autoimmunity and, because of that, they will be discussed in more detail. Here we introduce the general aspects involved with each biomarker that was studied in the region in order to contextualize the reader and add information about the Amazonian life style and health that may be considered for future studies. We hope that, in the future, the toxicological studies in this field use high technological tools, such as the next generation sequencing and proteomics skills, in order to comprehend basic questions regarding the metabolic route of mercury in populations that are under constant exposure, such as in the Amazon.