Neurobehavioral toxicity in progeny of rat mothers exposed to methylmercury during gestation


Introduction. Methylmercury (MeHg) is recognized as one of the most hazardous environmental pollutants. This may be a concern to long-term consumption of contaminated fish and seafood for health risk to pregnant women and their children.
Aim. An animal study was conducted to assess the effect of MeHg exposure on rodent offspring following in utero exposure.
Methods. Pregnant Wister rats were treated by gavage with MeHg at dose levels of 0.5, 1.0 and 2.0 mg/kg/day from gestation day (GD) 5 till parturition, and then were allowed to deliver. Results. Dams treated with 2.0 mg/kg/day MeHg group showed signs of toxicity such as gait alterations and hyperactivity resulting in the failure to deliver sustainable viable pups. MeHg had significant effects on body weight gain of dams during GD 5 till parturition. MeHg had no significant effects on the ages of physical developments such as pinna detachment, incisor eruptions or eye opening as well as alter cliff avoidance, surface righting, swimming ontogeny, startle reflex, pivoting, negative geotaxis, or forelimb and hindlimb grip strength in either sex. Exposure to 1.0 mg/kg/day MeHg treatment group prolonged gestation period, retard mid-air righting in male pups, shortened forelimb grip strength measured on rotating rod in either sex and enhanced open field behaviour in male pups. Data obtained from Functional Observation Battery (FOB) also revealed impairment of neuromotor performance in male pups. The male pups appeared to be more susceptible than the female pups.
Conclusion. Overall, the dose level of MeHg in the present study produced a few adverse effects on the neurobehavioral parameters, and it may alter neuromotor performance of the male pups.


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Neurobehavioral toxicity in progeny of rat mothers exposed to methylmercury during gestation. (2014). Annali dell’Istituto Superiore Di Sanità, 50(1), 28–37. Retrieved from
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