Metallothionein as a biomarker for mercury in tissues of rat fed orally with cinnabar


Cinnabar, as one of the most widely used mineral drugs in traditional Chinese medicines, has been proven to have prominent curative effects in clinical use for more than 2000 years. But the safety and toxicity of the drug has been under constant debate in clinic usage. Metallothionein (MT) contains about 30% of cysteine in the molecule, and plays an important detoxification role against heavy metals. In this study, it was used as a biomarker to assess mercurial accumulation in rats fed orally with cinnabar. After feeding rats with cinnabar by gastric gavage at different dosages and at different times, the distribution of heavy metals (including mercury, copper and zinc) and MT was investigated among rat tissues, including liver, kidney, heart, brain, testis and blood. Metals and MT determinations were carried out using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and a modified mercury saturation assay technique respectively. The results indicated that mercury was easily accumulated in the tissues of rats exposed to cinnabar, especially in kidney. For example: at a feeding dosage of 5 g kg(-1) (bw) for 4 weeks, the mercury concentrations in kidney were 13, 8.7, 21.6 and 26 times those in liver, testis, brain and heart respectively; and at 2.5 g kg(-1) (bw) for 2 weeks, the mercury concentrations in kidney were 21, 2.1, 3 and 21 times those in liver, testis, brain and heart respectively. In addition, mercury in kidney and liver of all cinnabar groups was significantly higher than that of the control group (P < 0.01). A high positive correlation observed ;between MT concentrations and mercury levels in both liver and kidney (R-2 = 0.9299, P < 0.02 for liver; R-2 = 0.9923, P < 0.0008 for kidney) indicated that MT could be used as a biomarker for mercury in tissues. Copyright (C) 2004 John Wiley Sons, Ltd

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oaioai:dspace.xmu.edu.cn:2288/61815Last time updated on 6/16/2016

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