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Neurotransmitter levels in two populations of larval Fundulus heteroclitus after methylmercury exposure

, : Neurotransmitter levels in two populations of larval Fundulus heteroclitus after methylmercury exposure. Comparative Biochemistry & Physiology C Pharmacology Toxicology & Endocrinology 124(3): 287-294, Nov

The effects of methylmercury (MeHg) exposure on neurotransmitter (NT) levels in larval mummichogs (Fundulus heteroclitus) obtained from a mercury-polluted site (Piles Creek (PC), NJ) and a reference site (Tuckerton (TK), NJ) were examined. Population differences between PC and TK larvae in neurochemical composition and in neurochemical changes in response to MeHg intoxication were found. Heads of untreated PC larvae (7 days posthatch (dph)) contained considerably higher levels of dopamine (DA) and its metabolites 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) and homovanillic acid (HVA) than TK. However, they had comparable levels of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)) and 5-hyroxy-3-indoleacetic acid (5-HIAA)/5-HT ratios. Changes in NTs with age were noticed, especially in PC larvae. Exposure of larvae to 10 mug/l MeHg induced neurochemical alterations. A significant increase in DA and 5-HT, as well as depressed dopaminergic and serotonergic activity (i.e. decreased DOPAC/DA, HVA/DA and 5-HIAA/5-HT ratios) were seen in TK larvae. Exposure of PC larvae to 10 mug/l MeHg reduced 5-HT at 14 dph, increased serotonergic activity at 7 dph, and altered dopaminergic activity (i.e. increased DOPAC/DA ratios, but decreased HVA/DA ratios). Changes in DA levels were inconsistent over time. The DA level, which was considerably higher than the control at 7 dph, was significantly lower than the control at 14 dph. For the two populations, the level of 5-HT and serotonergic activity, as well as DOPAC and HVA levels, were correlated with previously noted spontaneous activity. The changes in NT levels after exposure to MeHg are an indication of neurological dysfunction in larvae.


DOI: 10.1016/s0742-8413(99)00077-8

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