Abstract in English:This review addresses the mechanisms of methylmercury (MeHg)-induced neurotoxicity, specifically examining the role of oxidative stress in mediating neuronal damage. A number of critical findings point to a central role for astrocytes in mediating MeHg-induced neurotoxicity as evidenced by the following observations: a) MeHg preferentially accumulates in astrocytes; b) MeHg specifically inhibits glutamate uptake in astrocytes; c) neuronal dysfunction is secondary to disturbances in astrocytes. The generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by MeHg has been observed in various experimental paradigms. For example, MeHg enhances ROS formation both in vivo (rodent cerebellum) and in vitro (isolated rat brain synaptosomes), as well as in neuronal and mixed reaggregating cell cultures. Antioxidants, including selenocompounds, can rescue astrocytes from MeHg-induced cytotoxicity by reducing ROS formation. We emphasize that oxidative stress plays a significant role in mediating MeHg-induced neurotoxic damage with active involvement of the mitochondria in this process. Furthermore, we provide a mechanistic overview on oxidative stress induced by MeHg that is triggered by a series of molecular events such as activation of various kinases, stress proteins and other immediate early genes culminating in cell damage.
Abstract in English:Almost identical polyglutamine-containing proteins with unknown structures have been found in human, mouse and rat genomes (GenBank AJ277365, AF525300, AY879229). We infer that an identical new gene (RING) finger domain of real interest is located in each C-terminal segment. A three-dimensional (3-D) model was generated by remote homology modeling and the functional implications are discussed. The model consists of 65 residues from terminal position 707 to 772 of the human protein with a total length of 796 residues. The 3-D model predicts a ubiquitin-protein ligase (E3) as a binding site for ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme (E2). Both enzymes are part of the ubiquitin pathway to label unwanted proteins for subsequent enzymatic degradation. The molecular contact specificities are suggested for both the substrate recognition and the residues at the possible E2-binding surface. The predicted structure, of a ubiquitin-protein ligase (E3, enzyme class number 184.108.40.206, CATH code 220.127.116.11.4) may contribute to explain the process of ubiquitination. The 3-D model supports the idea of a C3HC4-RING finger with a partially new pattern. The putative E2-binding site is formed by a shallow hydrophobic groove on the surface adjacent to the helix and one zinc finger (L722, C739, P740, P741, R744). Solvent-exposed hydrophobic amino acids lie around both zinc fingers (I717, L722, F738, or P765, L766, V767, V733, P734). The 3-D structure was deposited in the protein databank theoretical model repository (2B9G, RCSB Protein Data Bank, NJ).
Abstract in English:The purpose of the present study was to compare the sensitivity and specificity of V3 enzyme immunoassay (solid phase EIA and EIA inhibition) and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) with the DNA sequencing "gold standard" to identify the Brazilian HIV-1 variants of subtype B and B"-GWGR. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were collected from 61 HIV-1-infected individuals attending a clinic in São Paulo. Proviral DNA was amplified and sequentially cleaved with the Fok I restriction enzyme. Plasma samples were submitted to a V3-loop biotinylated synthetic peptide EIA. Direct partial DNA sequencing of the env gene was performed on all samples. Based on EIA results, the sensitivity for detecting B-GPGR was 70%, compared to 64% for the Brazilian variant B"-GWGR while, the specificity of B-GPGR detection was 85%, compared to 88% for GWGR. The assessment of RFLP revealed 68% sensitivity and 94% specificity for the B-GPGR strain compared to 84 and 90% for the B"-GWGR variant. Moreover, direct DNA sequencing was able to detect different base sequences corresponding to amino acid sequences at the tip of the V3 loop in 22 patients. These results show a similar performance of V3 serology and RLFP in identifying the Brazilian variant GWGR. However, V3 peptide serology may give indeterminate results. Therefore, we suggest that V3 serology be used instead of DNA sequencing where resources are limited. Samples giving indeterminate results by V3 peptide serology should be analyzed by direct DNA sequencing to distinguish between B-GPGR and the Brazilian variant B"-GWGR.
Abstract in English:Disorders of the lipid metabolism may play a role in the genesis of abdominal aorta aneurysm. The present study examined the intravascular catabolism of chylomicrons, the lipoproteins that carry the dietary lipids absorbed by the intestine in the circulation in patients with abdominal aorta aneurysm. Thirteen male patients (72 ± 5 years) with abdominal aorta aneurysm with normal plasma lipid profile and 13 healthy male control subjects (73 ± 5 years) participated in the study. The method of chylomicron-like emulsions was used to evaluate this metabolism. The emulsion labeled with 14C-cholesteryl oleate and ³H-triolein was injected intravenously in both groups. Blood samples were taken at regular intervals over 60 min to determine the decay curves. The fractional clearance rate (FCR) of the radioactive labels was calculated by compartmental analysis. The FCR of the emulsion with ³H-triolein was smaller in the aortic aneurysm patients than in controls (0.025 ± 0.017 vs 0.039 ± 0.019 min-1; P < 0.05), but the FCR of14C-cholesteryl oleate of both groups did not differ. In conclusion, as indicated by the triglyceride FCR, chylomicron lipolysis is diminished in male patients with aortic aneurysm, whereas the remnant removal which is traced by the cholesteryl oleate FCR is not altered. The results suggest that defects in the chylomicron metabolism may represent a risk factor for development of abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Abstract in English:Essential hypertension is a disease multifactorially triggered by genetic and environmental factors. The contribution of genetic polymorphisms of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and clinical risk factors to the development of resistant hypertension was evaluated in 90 hypertensive patients and in 115 normotensive controls living in Southwestern Brazil. Genotyping for insertion/deletion of angiotensin-converting enzyme, angiotensinogen M235T, angiotensin II type 1 receptor A1166C, aldosterone synthase C344T, and mineralocorticoid receptor A4582C polymorphisms was performed by PCR, with further restriction analysis when required. The influence of genetic polymorphisms on blood pressure variation was assessed by analysis of the odds ratio, while clinical risk factors were evaluated by logistic regression. Our analysis indicated that individuals who carry alleles 235-T, 1166-A, 344-T, or 4582-C had a significant risk of developing resistant hypertension (P < 0.05). Surprisingly, when we tested individuals who carried the presumed risk genotypes A1166C, C344T, and A4582C we found that these genotypes were not associated with resistant hypertension. However, a gradual increase in the risk to develop resistant hypertension was detected when the 235-MT and TT genotypes were combined with one, two or three of the supposedly more vulnerable genotypes - A1166C (AC/AA), C344T (TC/TT) and A4582C (AC/CC). Analysis of clinical parameters indicated that age, body mass index and gender contribute to blood pressure increase (P < 0.05). These results suggest that unfavorable genetic renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system patterns and clinical risk variables may contribute to increasing the risk for the development of resistant hypertension in a sample of the Brazilian population.
Abstract in English:Sepsis, the leading cause of death in intensive care units, is associated with overproduction of nitric oxide (NO) due to inducible NO synthase (iNOS), responsible for some of the pathologic changes. Aminoguanidine (AG) is a selective iNOS inhibitor with reported inconsistent actions in sepsis. To investigate the influence of iNOS, we studied models of acute bacterial sepsis using acute challenges with aerobic (Escherichia coli) and anaerobic (Bacteroides fragilis) bacteria in the presence of AG. Six-week-old, 23 g, male and female BALB/c and C57Bl/6j mice, in equal proportions, were inoculated (ip) with bacteria in groups of 4 animals for each dose and each experiment in the absence or presence of AG (50 mg/kg, ip, starting 24 h before challenge and daily until day 6) and serum nitrate was measured by chemiluminescence. Both types of bacteria were lethal to mice, with an LD50 of 6 nephelometric units (U) for E. coli and 8 U for B. fragilis. Nitrate production peaked on the second day after E. coli inoculation with 8 and 6 U (P < 0.05), but was absent after non-lethal lower doses. After challenge with B. fragilis this early peak occurred at all tested doses after 24 h, including non-lethal ones (P < 0.05). AG-treated mice challenged with E. coli presented higher survival (P < 0.05) and increased LD50. AG-treated mice challenged with B. fragilis had lower LD50 and higher mortality. Control AG-treated animals presented no toxic effects. The opposite effect of iNOS blockade by AG in these models could be explained by restriction of oxygen for immune cells or an efficient action of NO in anaerobic localized infections. The antagonic role of NO production observed in our bacterial models could explain the reported discrepancy of NO action in sepsis.
Abstract in English:The metabolic effects of carbohydrate supplementation in mice have not been extensively studied. In rats, glucose- and fructose-rich diets induce hypertriacylglycerolemia. In the present study, we compared the metabolic responses to two monosaccharide supplementations in two murine models. Adult male Wistar rats (N = 80) and C57BL/6 mice (N = 60), after 3 weeks on a standardized diet, were submitted to dietary supplementation by gavage with glucose (G) or fructose (F) solutions (500 g/L), 8 g/kg body weight for 21 days. Glycemia was significantly higher in rats after fructose treatment (F: 7.9 vs 9.3 mM) and in mice (G: 6.5 vs 10 and F: 6.6 vs 8.9 mM) after both carbohydrate treatments. Triacylglycerolemia increased significantly 1.5 times in rats after G or F supplementation. Total cholesterol did not change with G treatment in rats, but did decrease after F supplementation (1.5 vs 1.4 mM, P < 0.05). Both supplementations in rats induced insulin resistance, as suggested by the higher Homeostasis Model Assessment Index. In contrast, mice showed significant decreases in triacylglycerol (G: 1.8 vs 1.4 and F: 1.9 vs 1.4 mM, P < 0.01) and total cholesterol levels (G and F: 2.7 vs 2.5 mM, P < 0.05) after both monosaccharide supplementations. Wistar rats and C57BL/6 mice, although belonging to the same family (Muridae), presented opposite responses to glucose and fructose supplementation regarding serum triacylglycerol, free fatty acids, and insulin levels after monosaccharide treatment. Thus, while Wistar rats developed features of plurimetabolic syndrome, C57BL/6 mice presented changes in serum biochemical profile considered to be healthier for the cardiovascular system.
Abstract in English:We analyzed the effects of saline infusion for the maintenance of blood volume on pulmonary gas exchange in ischemia-reperfusion syndrome during temporary abdominal aortic occlusion in dogs. We studied 20 adult mongrel dogs weighing 12 to 23 kg divided into two groups: ischemia-reperfusion group (IRG, N = 10) and IRG submitted to saline infusion for the maintenance of mean pulmonary arterial wedge pressure between 10 and 20 mmHg (IRG-SS, N = 10). All animals were anesthetized and maintained on spontaneous ventilation. After obtaining baseline measurements, occlusion of the supraceliac aorta was performed by the inflation of a Fogarty catheter. After 60 min of ischemia, the balloon was deflated and the animals were observed for another 60 min of reperfusion. The measurements were made at 10 and 45 min of ischemia, and 5, 30, and 60 min of reperfusion. Pulmonary gas exchange was impaired in the IRG-SS group as demonstrated by the increase of the alveolar-arterial oxygen difference (21 ± 14 in IRG-SS vs 11 ± 8 in IRG after 60 min of reperfusion, P = 0.004 in IRG-SS in relation to baseline values) and the decrease of oxygen partial pressure in arterial blood (58 ± 15 in IRG-SS vs 76 ± 15 in IRG after 60 min of reperfusion, P = 0.001 in IRG-SS in relation to baseline values), which was correlated with the highest degree of pulmonary edema in morphometric analysis (0.16 ± 0.06 in IRG-SS vs 0.09 ± 0.04 in IRG, P = 0.03 between groups). There was also a smaller ventilatory compensation of metabolic acidosis after the reperfusion. We conclude that infusion of normal saline worsened the gas exchange induced by pulmonary reperfusion injury in this experimental model.
Abstract in English:Animal studies and premarketing clinical trials have revealed hepatotoxicity of statins, primarily minor elevations in serum alanine aminotransferase levels. The combined chronic use of medicines and eventual ethanol abuse are common and may present a synergistic action regarding liver injury. Our objective was to study the effect of the chronic use of atorvastatin associated with acute ethanol administration on the liver in a rat model. One group of rats was treated daily for 5 days a week for 2 months with 0.8 mg/kg atorvastatin by gavage. At the end of the treatment the livers were perfused with 72 mM ethanol for 60 min. Control groups (at least 4 animals in each group) consisted of a group of 2-month-old male Wistar EPM-1 rats exposed to 10% ethanol (v/v) ad libitum replacing water for 2 months, followed by perfusion of the liver with 61 nM atorvastatin for 60 min, and a group of animals without chronic ethanol treatment whose livers were perfused with atorvastatin and/or ethanol. The combination of atorvastatin with ethanol did not increase the release of injury marker enzymes (alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, and lactic dehydrogenase) from the liver and no change in liver function markers (bromosulfophthalein clearance, and oxygen consumption) was observed. Our results suggest that the combination of atorvastatin with ethanol is not more hepatotoxic than the separate use of each substance.
Abstract in English:Dental caries and periodontal disease are associated with oral pathogens. Several plant derivatives have been evaluated with respect to their antimicrobial effects against such pathogenic microorganisms. Lippia sidoides Cham (Verbenaceae), popularly known as "Alecrim-pimenta" is a typical shrub commonly found in the Northeast of Brazil. Many plant species belonging to the genus Lippia yield very fragrant essential oils of potential economic value which are used by the industry for the commercial production of perfumes, creams, lotions, and deodorants. Since the leaves of L. sidoides are also extensively used in popular medicine for the treatment of skin wounds and cuts, the objective of the present study was to evaluate the composition and antimicrobial activity of L. sidoides essential oil. The essential oil was obtained by hydro-distillation and analyzed by GC-MS. Twelve compounds were characterized, having as major constituents thymol (56.7%) and carvacrol (16.7%). The antimicrobial activity of the oil and the major components was tested against cariogenic bacterial species of the genus Streptococcus as well as Candida albicans using the broth dilution and disk diffusion assays. The essential oil and its major components thymol and carvacrol exhibited potent antimicrobial activity against the organisms tested with minimum inhibitory concentrations ranging from 0.625 to 10.0 mg/mL. The most sensitive microorganisms were C. albicans and Streptococcus mutans. The essential oil of L. sidoides and its major components exert promising antimicrobial effects against oral pathogens and suggest its likely usefulness to combat oral microbial growth.
Abstract in English:The effects of haloperidol and olanzapine on polysomnographic measures made in bipolar patients during manic episodes were compared. Twelve DSM-IV mania patients were randomly assigned to receive either haloperidol (mean ± SD final dosage: 5.8 ± 3.8 mg) or olanzapine (mean ± SD final dosage: 13.6 ± 6.9 mg) in a 6-week, double-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial. One-night polysomnographic evaluation was performed before and after the haloperidol or olanzapine treatment. Psychopathology and illness severity were rated respectively with the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) and the Clinical Global Impressions - Bipolar version (CGI-BP). There was a significant improvement in the YMRS and CGI-BP scores at the end of the study for both groups. Mixed ANOVA used to compare the polysomnographic measures of both drugs demonstrated significant improvement in sleep measures with olanzapine. In the olanzapine group, statistically significant time-drug interaction effects on sleep continuity measures were observed: sleep efficiency (mean ± SEM pre-treatment value: 6.7 ± 20.3%; after-treatment: 85.7 ± 10.9%), total wake time (pre-treatment: 140.0 ± 92.5 min; after-treatment: 55.2 ± 44.2 min), and wake time after sleep onset (pre-treatment: 109.7 ± 70.8 min; after-treatment: 32.2 ± 20.7 min). Conversely, improvement of polysomnographic measures was not observed for the haloperidol group (P > 0.05). These results suggest that olanzapine is more effective than haloperidol in terms of sleep-promoting effects, although olanzapine is comparatively as effective as haloperidol in treating mania. Polysomnography records should provide useful information on how manic states can be affected by psychopharmacological agents.
Abstract in English:Alcohol is part of the history of humanity, seemingly as a result of countless factors including the easy production of alcoholic beverages in practically all regions of the world. The authors studied aspects of the use of and the dependence on alcohol in Brazil, through a household survey conducted by Centro Brasileiro de Informações sobre Drogas Psicotrópicas (CEBRID). A total of 8,589 interviews were held in 107 of the largest cities in Brazil, all of them with more than 200 thousand inhabitants. The study was planned to gather information within the household environment about a stratified probabilistic sample obtained in three selection phases: 1) the censitaire sectors for each municipality, 2) a systematic randomized sampling, and 3) drafting a respondent by lot in each household to provide information. Approximately 11.2% of the subjects were concerned with their own consumption of alcohol. The signs/symptoms of the syndrome of dependence evident in a greater percentage were the desire to stop or reduce the use of alcohol and to stop or reduce resorting to alcoholic beverages more often than desired, as reported by 14.5 and 9.4% of the respondents, respectively. The regions in Brazil with the highest percentage of dependents were the North (16.3%) and the Northeast (19.9%). According to the estimates obtained in the survey, 5.2% of the teenagers were concerned about the use of alcohol. The estimates obtained in this survey reveal a need to implant specific preventive programs for the problem of alcohol, especially for the very young.
Abstract in English:It has been shown that mental rotation of objects and human body parts is processed differently in the human brain. But what about body parts belonging to other primates? Does our brain process this information like any other object or does it instead maximize the structural similarities with our homologous body parts? We tried to answer this question by measuring the manual reaction time (MRT) of human participants discriminating the handedness of drawings representing the hands of four anthropoid primates (orangutan, chimpanzee, gorilla, and human). Twenty-four right-handed volunteers (13 males and 11 females) were instructed to judge the handedness of a hand drawing in palm view by pressing a left/right key. The orientation of hand drawings varied from 0º (fingers upwards) to 90º lateral (fingers pointing away from the midline), 180º (fingers downwards) and 90º medial (finger towards the midline). The results showed an effect of rotation angle (F(3, 69) = 19.57, P < 0.001), but not of hand identity, on MRTs. Moreover, for all hand drawings, a medial rotation elicited shorter MRTs than a lateral rotation (960 and 1169 ms, respectively, P < 0.05). This result has been previously observed for drawings of the human hand and related to biomechanical constraints of movement performance. Our findings indicate that anthropoid hands are essentially equivalent stimuli for handedness recognition. Since the task involves mentally simulating the posture and rotation of the hands, we wondered if "mirror neurons" could be involved in establishing the motor equivalence between the stimuli and the participants' own hands.
Abstract in English:The effect of proton pump inhibitors and Helicobacter pylori infection on the bioavailability of antibiotics is poorly understood. We determined the effects of 5-day oral administration of 60 mg lansoprazole on the bioavailability of clarithromycin in individuals with and without H. pylori infection. Thirteen H. pylori-infected and 10 non-infected healthy volunteers were enrolled in a study with an open-randomized two-period crossover design and a 21-day washout period between phases. Plasma concentrations of clarithromycin in subjects with and without lansoprazole pre-treatment were measured by liquid chromatography coupled to a tandem mass spectrometer. Clarithromycin Cmax and AUC0-10 h were significantly reduced after lansoprazole administration. In addition, lansoprazole treatment of the H. pylori-positive group resulted in a statistically significant greater reduction in Cmax (40 vs 15%) and AUC0-10 h (30 vs 10%) compared to lansoprazole-treated H. pylori-negative subjects. Thus, treatment with lansoprazole for 5 days reduced bioavailability of clarithromycin, irrespective of H. pylori status. This reduction, however, was even more pronounced in H. pylori-infected individuals.
Abstract in English:Chagas' disease, caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, is a major cause of cardiovascular disability in countries where it is endemic. Damage to the heart microvasculature has been proposed to be an important factor in the pathogenesis of heart dysfunction. Endothelin-1 (ET-1) is a potent vasoconstrictor and exerts its effects via specific ET A and ET B receptors. A few studies have suggested a role for ET-1 and its receptors in the pathogenesis of Chagas' disease. We investigated the effects of treatment with bosentan, an ET A/ET B receptor antagonist, on the course of T. cruzi infection (Y strain) in C57Bl/6 mice. Treatment with bosentan (100 mg kg-1 day-1) was given per os starting day 0 after infection until sacrifice. Bosentan significantly increased myocardial inflammation, with no effects on parasitemia. Although the total number of nests was similar, a lower number of intact amastigote nests was found in the heart of bosentan-treated animals. Bosentan failed to affect the infection-associated increase in the cardiac levels of the cytokines IFN-g and TNF-a and the chemokines CCL2/MCP-1, CCL3/MIP-1a and CCL5/RANTES. In vitro, pre-incubation with ET-1 (0.1 µM) 4 h before infection enhanced the uptake of the parasites by peritoneal macrophages, and this effect was abrogated when macrophages were pre-treated with bosentan (1 µM) 15 min before incubation with ET-1. However, ET-1 did not alter killing of intracellular parasites after 48 h of in vitro infection. Our data suggest that bosentan-treated mice have a delay in controlling parasitism which is compensated for exacerbated inflammation. Infection is eventually controlled in these animals and lethality is unchanged, demonstrating that ET-1 plays a minor role in the protection against acute murine T. cruzi infection.
Abstract in English:We evaluated the hemodynamic pattern and the contribution of the sympathetic nervous system in conscious and anesthetized (1.4 g/kg urethane, iv) Wistar rats with L-NAME-induced hypertension (20 mg/kg daily). The basal hemodynamic profile was similar for hypertensive animals, conscious (N = 12) or anesthetized (N = 12) treated with L-NAME for 2 or 7 days: increase of total peripheral resistance associated with a decrease of cardiac output (CO) compared to normotensive animals, conscious (N = 14) or anesthetized (N = 14). Sympathetic blockade with hexamethonium essentially caused a decrease in total peripheral resistance in hypertensive animals (conscious, 2 days: from (means ± SEM) 2.47 ± 0.08 to 2.14 ± 0.07; conscious, 7 days: from 2.85 ± 0.13 to 2.07 ± 0.33; anesthetized, 2 days: from 3.00 ± 0.09 to 1.83 ± 0.25 and anesthetized, 7 days: from 3.56 ± 0.11 to 1.53 ± 0.10 mmHg mL-1 min-1) with no change in CO in either group. However, in the normotensive group a fall in CO (conscious: from 125 ± 4.5 to 96 ± 4; anesthetized: from 118 ± 1.5 to 104 ± 5.5 mL/min) was observed. The responses after hexamethonium were more prominent in the hypertensive anesthetized group. However, no difference was observed between conscious and anesthetized normotensive rats in response to sympathetic blockade. The present study shows that the vasoconstriction in response to L-NAME was mediated by the sympathetic drive. The sympathetic tone plays an important role in the initiation and maintenance of hypertension.
Abstract in English:We evaluated the color vision of 24 subjects (41.6 ± 6.5 years; 6 females) who worked in fluorescent lamp industries. They had been occupationally exposed to mercury vapor (10.6 ± 5.2 years) and had been away from the source of exposure for 6.4 ± 4.04 years. Mean urinary concentration of mercury was 40.6 ± 36.4 µg/g creatinine during or up to 1 year after exposure and 2.71 ± 1.19 µg/g creatinine at the time of color vision testing or up to 1 year thereafter. All patients were diagnosed with chronic mercury intoxication, characterized by clinical symptoms and neuropsychological alterations. A control group (N = 36, 48.6 ± 11.9 years, 10 females, 1.5 ± 0.47 µg mercury/g creatinine) was subjected to the same tests. Inclusion criteria for both groups were Snellen VA 20/30 or better and absence of known ophthalmologic pathologies. Color discrimination was assessed with the Farnsworth D-15 test (D-15) and with the Lanthony D-15d test (D-15d). Significant differences were found between the two eyes of the patients (P < 0.001) in both tests. Results for the worst eye were also different from controls for both tests: P = 0.014 for D-15 and P < 0.001 for D-15d. As shown in previous studies, the D-15d proved to be more sensitive than the D-15 for the screening and diagnosis of the color discrimination losses. Since color discrimination losses were still present many years after the end of exposure, they may be considered to be irreversible, at least under the conditions of the present study.
Abstract in English:We measured visual performance in achromatic and chromatic spatial tasks of mercury-exposed subjects and compared the results with norms obtained from healthy individuals of similar age. Data were obtained for a group of 28 mercury-exposed subjects, comprising 20 Amazonian gold miners, 2 inhabitants of Amazonian riverside communities, and 6 laboratory technicians, who asked for medical care. Statistical norms were generated by testing healthy control subjects divided into three age groups. The performance of a substantial proportion of the mercury-exposed subjects was below the norms in all of these tasks. Eleven of 20 subjects (55%) performed below the norms in the achromatic contrast sensitivity task. The mercury-exposed subjects also had lower red-green contrast sensitivity deficits at all tested spatial frequencies (9/11 subjects; 81%). Three gold miners and 1 riverine (4/19 subjects, 21%) performed worse than normal subjects making more mistakes in the color arrangement test. Five of 10 subjects tested (50%), comprising 2 gold miners, 2 technicians, and 1 riverine, performed worse than normal in the color discrimination test, having areas of one or more MacAdam ellipse larger than normal subjects and high color discrimination thresholds at least in one color locus. These data indicate that psychophysical assessment can be used to quantify the degree of visual impairment of mercury-exposed subjects. They also suggest that some spatial tests such as the measurement of red-green chromatic contrast are sufficiently sensitive to detect visual dysfunction caused by mercury toxicity.
Abstract in English:We assessed the neuropsychological test performances of 26 patients (mean age = 41.5 ± 6.1 years; mean years of education = 9.8 ± 1.8; 20 males) diagnosed with chronic occupational mercurialism who were former workers at a fluorescent lamp factory. They had been exposed to elemental mercury for an average of 10.2 ± 3.8 years and had been away from this work for 6 ± 4.7 years. Mean urinary mercury concentrations 1 year after cessation of work were 1.8 ± 0.9 µg/g creatinine. Twenty control subjects matched for age, gender, and education (18 males) were used for comparison. Neuropsychological assessment included attention, inhibitory control, verbal and visual memory, verbal fluency, manual dexterity, visual-spatial function, executive function, and semantic knowledge tests. The Beck Depression Inventory and the State and Trait Inventory were used to assess depression and anxiety symptoms, respectively. The raw score for the group exposed to mercury indicated slower information processing speed, inferior performance in psychomotor speed, verbal spontaneous recall memory, and manual dexterity of the dominant hand and non-dominant hand (P < 0.05). In addition, the patients showed increased depression and anxiety symptoms (P < 0.001). A statistically significant correlation (Pearson) was demonstrable between mean urinary mercury and anxiety trait (r = 0.75, P = 0.03). The neuropsychological performances of the former workers suggest that occupational exposure to elemental mercury has long-term effects on information processing and psychomotor function, with increased depression and anxiety also possibly reflecting the psychosocial context.