Effects of mercury on the steroidogenesis of human adrenocarcinoma (NCI-H295R) cell line

Zuzana Knazicka, Norbert Lukac, Zsolt Forgacs, Eva Tvrda, Jana Lukacova, Jana Slivkova, Łukasz Binkowski, Peter Massanyi

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In this study the NCI-H295R human adrenocortical carcinoma cell line was used as an in vitro biological model to study the effect of mercury (HgCl 2) on the steroidogenesis. The cells were cultured for 48h with addition of 1.0; 5.0; 25; 50 or 100M of HgCl2 and compared to control. Cell viability was measured by the MTT (metabolic activity) assay estimation for the mitochondria structural integrity. Quantification of testosterone and progesterone directly from aliquots of the medium was performed by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Concentration-dependent depression in testosterone production was detected particularly for higher concentration of Hg2+. Progesterone production was also decreased, but at the lower concentrations (1.0 and 5.0M) of Hg2+ this decline was lower compared to depression of testosterone. The cell viability significantly decreased at 25M and higher concentration of Hg2+. However, at 25M Hg2+ exposure the cell viability remained relatively high (> 80%). Results of the study indicate dose-dependent decreases in both testosterone and progesterone production of H295R cell culture following a 48h in vitro HgCl2 exposure. The results suggest that Hg has detrimental effects on steroid hormone synthesis also at very low concentrations and consecutively on reproductive physiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-353
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Environmental Science and Health - Part A Toxic/Hazardous Substances and Environmental Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2013



  • Mercury chloride
  • cell line H295R
  • cell viability
  • steroid hormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering

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