• Potential Mechanisms Of Inorganic Mercury Intoxication In Rat Kidney Cells

      Orr, Sarah Elizabeth
      Mercury is a ubiquitous toxic metal that is found in the environment. Different forms of mercury can be ingested, inhaled, and/or absorbed dermally. Exposure to mercury occurs typically through the ingestion of organic mercuric compounds in contaminated seafood and/or the inhalation of mercury vapor from mercury-containing dental amalgams, broken mercury-containing thermometers, or industrial sources such as coal-fired power plants. Mercury intoxication occurs in target cells of organs, such as kidneys, following significant exposure to one of the different chemical forms of mercury. Due to the adverse health effects of mercuric ions in humans, a thorough analysis of the mechanisms by which mercury initiates cellular intoxication in target cells is necessary for the development of effective therapeutic strategies. The purpose of this study was to identify the specific intracellular mechanisms that lead to the toxic effects of inorganic mercury (Hg2+) in target cells. Exposure to mercury can lead to significant alterations in cytoskeletal structure, calcium availability, membrane permeability, oxidative stress, and autophagy. These alterations were studied and assessed using a variety of laboratory techniques including cell culture, laser-scanning confocal microscopy, and quantitative PCR. Additionally, the protective properties of alpha lipoic acid were analyzed using similar methods. By experimentally examining each of these aspects, we have established a more complete understanding of intoxication and cellular injury induced by inorganic mercury in proximal tubular cells.