2013 Volume 38 Issue 6 Pages 823-831
Methylmercury (MeHg) is a well-known human neurotoxic agent whose exposure sources are mainly environmental and aquatic-derived food. MeHg is reported to induce central nervous system disability. However, the exact mechanism of MeHg-induced neurotoxicity is still unknown. In this study, to investigate which cell death signaling pathway is related with MeHg-induced cytotoxicity, the effects of MeHg on apoptosis and autophagy were evaluated in HB1.F3 human neural stem cells (NSCs). Human NSCs were treated with 1 μM of MeHg for 48 hr and the effect of MeHg on cell signaling pathway was elucidated. MeHg inhibited Akt1/mTOR signaling that led to induction of caspase-dependent apoptosis and autophagy in the NSCs. Furthermore, retinoic acid (RA)-induced neuronal differentiation was inhibited by MeHg. Taken together, these results suggest that MeHg inhibits the differentiation of human NSCs by induction of caspase-dependent apoptosis and autophagy.