BioMed Research International

Mercury Toxicity

Publishing date
05 Oct 2012
Submission deadline
06 Apr 2012

1Universidade de Santa Maria, Santa Maria, RS, Brazil

2Department of Pharmacology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA

3Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

4Department of Biochemistry, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, SC, Brazil

5Universidade Federal do Pará, Belém, PA, Brazil

Mercury Toxicity


Mercury (Hg) is one of the most toxic elements in the periodic table. It has been released into the environment for centuries. Nowadays, there are efforts to reduce its anthropogenic use; however, its environmental presence is significant and will persist for a long time. Inorganic Hg can be biotransformed in aquatic sediments to methylmercury (MeHg) that can be biomagnified in the web chain and can attain alarming levels in predatory fish. Consequently, human populations can be exposed to mercury via consumption of fish. The deleterious impact of exposure to Hg during critical phases of brain development is unpredictable, and both experimental and epidemiological data have indicated that it is impossible to establish a nonobservable adverse effect level (NOAEL) for Hg. Furthermore, the exposure to MeHg in adults can cause delayed neurotoxic effects. Thus, the accepted safe daily intakes of MeHg, which are considered without hazards to humans, are possibly above the true NOAEL. As a soft electrophile, MeHg has a strong affinity for soft nucleophiles (thiol and selenol groups). These groups play important biochemical functions in proteins, and the inactivation of thiol- or selenol-containing enzymes can disrupt cell physiology. In this special issue, we invite investigators to contribute original research articles as well as review articles that will stimulate the continuous efforts to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in the toxicology of mercury and its environmental and epidemiological consequences. In effect, the collective analysis of the results obtained in experimental studies with those obtained in the epidemiological studies is expected to provide a more precise assessment of the hazards associated with low-level mercury exposures. Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Molecular, environmental, occupational, and accidental toxicity of Hg(0)
  • Molecular, environmental, occupational, and accidental toxicity of Hg(II)
  • Molecular, environmental, occupational, and accidental toxicity of (CH3Hg(II)) or ethylmercury (CH3CH2Hg(II))
  • Development of strategies to reduce mercury toxicity

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