Author(s): Hastings FL, Lucier GW, Klein R. Methylmercury-cholinesterase interactions in rats. Environ Health Perspect. 1975 Dec;12:127-30. PMID 1227853
Journal: Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 12, Dec 1975
The interaction of methylmercury hydroxide (MMH) and cholinesterases was studied in male and female rats. MMH administered subcutaneously in doses of 10 mg/kg for 2 days reduced the level of plasma cholinesterase (ButChE) by 68% in females and 47% in males while brain acetylcholinesterase (AChE) was unaffected. Normal females had higher but more variable ButChE levels than normal males. In a time-course experiment, a single dose of MMH (10 mg/kg) reduced ButChE levels when mercury levels reached 22 mug/ml in the blood. A 10% reduction in brain AChE was observed at 72 hours; however, mercury reached a concentration of only 2.0 mug/g in brain tissue. The determination of the Michaelis constant Km and maximum velocity value Vmax for butyrylcholine and ButChE in control and MMH-treated (1 mg/kg) animals indicated that MMH reduced Vmax only. Since no loss in ButChE activity occurred when MMH and control plasma were incubated in vitro, MMH is not a direct inhibitor of ButChE. Because only the inactive monomeric form of ButChE contains free sulfhydryl groups, it is postulated that MMH combines covalently with the sulfur, preventing formation of active enzyme. By analogy, it is believed this is also the case with AChE.