Methylmercury Chloride Exposure Deteriorates Behaviors and Impacts the Immune System

March 21, 2022

Mouse Model Study Shows Increased Production of Proinflammatory Cytokines after Exposure  

New research from Saudi Arabia has investigated the effects of methylmercury chloride (MeHgCl) exposure on BTBR mice. BTBR mice are an inbred mouse strain that exhibit core symptoms of autism-like behaviors. The authors of this new study hypothesized that MeHgCl exposure could be associated with further neurobehavioral and immune dysfunctions in BTBR mice due to their genetic susceptibility of behavioral and immune system abnormalities. To prove their hypothesis, the researchers split the BTBR mice into two groups. The first group served as the exposure group and was administered MeHgCl daily through a saline solution for 28 days. The second group served as the control arm and was given a solution composed of saline only for the same period of time. At the end of the experiment, the researchers observed that the exposed mice had increased stereotypical behaviors (marble burying, self-grooming), imparied social behaviors, as well as locomotor problems. Additionally, the team also found that the exposed rodents had increased the production of CD4+IFN-γ+, CD4+T-bet+, CCR9+T-bet+, CXCR5+IL-9+, CD4+IL-9+, CXCR6+IL-17A+, and CD4+IL-17A+ in the cells of their spleens, which demonstrates immune system imbalances. Furthermore, MeHgCl exposed mice had increased mRNA and protein levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in their brains and blood serum. The control group mice did not exhibit any of these symptoms or outcomes. The study’s authors believe their findings suggest that MeHgCl exposure further causes neurobehavioral and immune dysfunction in a susceptible host such as the BTBR mice strain. Ultimately, the team feels their results could be used to design better therapies to counteract autism-associated social deficit and immune system dysfunction during MeHgCl exposure.  


Original Study Abstract 

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