JV Task 77 - Health Implications of Mercury - Selenium Interactions

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Exposure to mercury (Hg) commonly results from eating fish containing bioaccumulated methylmercury (MeHg). However, conflicting observations and conclusions have arisen from the ongoing human studies of MeHg exposure from fish consumption. Resolving these uncertainties has important implications for human health since significant nutritional benefits will be lost if fish consumption is needlessly avoided. Selenium (Se), an important nutrient that is abundant in ocean fish, has a potent protective effect against Hg toxicity. This protective effect was thought to be due to the high binding affinities between Hg and Se resulting in Se sequestration of Hg to prevent its harmful effects. ... continued below

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Ralstion, Nicholas & Raymond, Laura December 15, 2007.

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Description

Exposure to mercury (Hg) commonly results from eating fish containing bioaccumulated methylmercury (MeHg). However, conflicting observations and conclusions have arisen from the ongoing human studies of MeHg exposure from fish consumption. Resolving these uncertainties has important implications for human health since significant nutritional benefits will be lost if fish consumption is needlessly avoided. Selenium (Se), an important nutrient that is abundant in ocean fish, has a potent protective effect against Hg toxicity. This protective effect was thought to be due to the high binding affinities between Hg and Se resulting in Se sequestration of Hg to prevent its harmful effects. However, it is imperative to consider the opposing effect of Hg on Se physiology. Crucial proteins that require Se normally protect the brain and hormone-producing glands from oxidative damage. MeHg is able to cross all biological barriers and enter cells in these tissues, where its high Se affinity results in Se sequestration. Sequestration in association with Hg prevents Se from participating in proteins that perform essential antioxidant activities. Supplemental dietary Se is able to replace Se sequestered by Hg and maintain normal antioxidant protection of brain and glands. The goal of this research project was to assess the potency of normal dietary levels of Se in protection against MeHg toxicity. Results from this project indicate that MeHg toxicity is only evident in situations resulting in Hg occurring in high molar excess of Se. Additionally, the common method of MeHg risk assessments using measurements of toenail and blood levels of Hg was shown to provide an accurate reflection of Hg exposure but did not accurately indicate risk of toxicity resulting from that exposure. Instead, Hg:Se molar ratios are proposed as a superior means of assessing risks associated with MeHg exposure.

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  • Report No.: None
  • Grant Number: FC26-98FT40321
  • DOI: 10.2172/988879 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 988879
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc1014938

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • December 15, 2007

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Oct. 14, 2017, 8:36 a.m.

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  • Oct. 23, 2017, 8:42 p.m.

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Ralstion, Nicholas & Raymond, Laura. JV Task 77 - Health Implications of Mercury - Selenium Interactions, report, December 15, 2007; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1014938/: accessed December 10, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.