Author(s): Yasutake A
To elucidate the mechanisms by which methyl-mercury (MeHg) is eliminated from organisms, male C57BL/6N mice were orally administered with MeHg chloride (5 mg/kg) and the chemical forms of its metabolites in plasma, urine and kidney were determined by column chromatographic analysis. Orally administered MeHg rapidly entered the circulation, accumulated in the kidney and other tissues, and was slowly excreted in the urine. Ultrafiltration and gel filtration analysis revealed that most of plasma MeHg was accounted for by its albumin conjugate. Cell fractionation analysis revealed that about 80% of renal MeHg was recovered from the 15,000 g supernatant fraction of the kidney homogenate. If the kidney was homogenized in the presence of serine-borate complex, a potent inhibitor of gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase (gamma-GTP), about 50% of the MeHg in the supernatant fraction was recovered as its glutathione S-conjugate while the rest was bound to cytosolic protein(s). The major part of urinary MeHg was accounted for by its cysteine conjugate. However, urinary excretion of its glutathione conjugate increased significantly if animals were pretreated with acivicin, an affinity labeling reagent for gamma-GTP. These and other results suggested that MeHg bound to albumin accumulated in the kidney predominantly via some non-filtrating peritubular mechanism, and localized in renal cytosolic compartment as its glutathione- and protein-bound forms. The glutathione S-conjugate of MeHg in the tubule cells might be transferred to the lumenal space, hydrolyzed to the cysteine S-conjugate, and then excreted in urine. These sequential events might constitute an important eliminatory pathway for a hazardous mercurial metabolite in mice.