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Toxics 2018, 6(4), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics6040061

Sub-Nanomolar Methylmercury Exposure Promotes Premature Differentiation of Murine Embryonic Neural Precursor at the Expense of Their Proliferation

1
Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada
2
Regenerative Medicine Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, ON K1H 8L6, Canada
3
Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1H 8M5, Canada
4
Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1H 8M5, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 September 2018 / Revised: 28 September 2018 / Accepted: 3 October 2018 / Published: 10 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mercury and Methylmercury Toxicology and Risk Assessment)
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Abstract

Methylmercury (MeHg) is a ubiquitous environmental pollutant that is known to be neurotoxic, particularly during fetal development. However, the mechanisms responsible for MeHg-induced changes in adult neuronal function, when their exposure occurred primarily during fetal development, are not yet understood. We hypothesized that fetal MeHg exposure could affect neural precursor development leading to long-term neurotoxic effects. Primary cortical precursor cultures obtained from embryonic day 12 were exposed to 0 nM, 0.25 nM, 0.5 nM, 2.5 nM, and 5 nM MeHg for 48 or 72 h. Total Hg accumulated in the harvested cells in a dose-dependent manner. Not all of the concentrations tested in the study affected cell viability. Intriguingly, we observed that cortical precursor exposed to 0.25 nM MeHg showed increased neuronal differentiation, while its proliferation was inhibited. Reduced neuronal differentiation, however, was observed in the higher dose groups. Our results suggest that sub-nanomolar MeHg exposure may deplete the pool of neural precursors by increasing premature neuronal differentiation, which can lead to long-term neurological effects in adulthood as opposed to the higher MeHg doses that cause more immediate toxicity during infant development. View Full-Text
Keywords: methylmercury; cortical precursors; developmental neurotoxicity; low-dose exposure; delayed effects methylmercury; cortical precursors; developmental neurotoxicity; low-dose exposure; delayed effects
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Yuan, X.; Wang, J.; Chan, H.M. Sub-Nanomolar Methylmercury Exposure Promotes Premature Differentiation of Murine Embryonic Neural Precursor at the Expense of Their Proliferation. Toxics 2018, 6, 61.

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