Fundamental Toxicological Sciences
Online ISSN : 2189-115X
ISSN-L : 2189-115X
Toxicomics Report
Alteration of gene levels in fetal brain by prenatal exposure to methylmercury, copper, and their combination
Kensuke SatoRyota NakanoYoshitaka YamazakiHikaru IsobeYun-Gi KimMasahiro HosonumaMasahiro AkiyamaYoshito Kumagai
Author information

2024 Volume 11 Issue 3 Pages 131-139


Methylmercury (MeHg), a potent neurotoxin, poses substantial risks to prenatal brain development by crossing the placental barrier. In our daily lives, we are exposed to various environmental metals simultaneously with MeHg. Therefore, the combined exposure effects of these metals and MeHg should be investigated. Hence, this study examined the combined fetal exposure effects of MeHg and copper (Cu), an essential element. Gene expression changes in the fetal brains of mice exposed to MeHg, Cu, or both were examined through RNA-seq analysis. Our results showed that the number of variable genes exposed to combined MeHg and Cu increased compared with that in single exposure. Most of them were gene variations specific to combined exposure. Gene Ontology biological process analysis revealed the amplified effects on GABAergic interneurons in the cerebral cortex under combined exposure. IPA pathway analysis indicated considerable variations in pathways related to oxidative stress, neuronal development, and energy metabolism, including the activation of NRF2-mediated oxidative stress response and the suppression of mitochondrial fatty acid beta-oxidation. These findings highlighted the complexity and enhanced risks of combined MeHg and Cu exposure. Therefore, neurodevelopmental effects were more severe and multifaceted than those caused by individual exposures. This research highlighted the importance of understanding the mechanisms of the combined exposure effects of MeHg.

Content from these authors
© 2024 The Japanese Society of Toxicology
Previous article Next article