2012 Volume 35 Issue 8 Pages 1201-1205
Methylmercury is an environmental neurotoxin that induces severe neurological damage in the brain of humans and animals. The main pathological characteristic of methylmercury neurotoxicity is the location of the damage; lesions are localized around the deep sulci and fissures in the cerebral cortex, such as the calcarine fissure, and the granule cell layer of the cerebellum. Since the localization of the damage is suggested to be a result of secondary damage occurring due to edematous change in the white cortex, the toxicity of methylmercury to cells that compose the microvessels―endothelial cells and pericytes―may be important for understanding the neurotoxicity of methylmercury. We investigated the toxicity of methylmercury to human brain microvascular endothelial cells and pericytes using a cell culture system. It was revealed that the toxicity of methylmercury to microvascular cells depends on the cell type and density. It is suggested that vascular tissue is one of the targets of methylmercury toxicity and that this may contribute to the progression of edematous change in the brain. Methylmercury may also be involved in the progression of cardiovascular diseases.