Young adult male Wistar rats (24/group) were treated for 5 weeks with methyl mercury(II)chloride (corresponding to 0.5 and 2.0 mgHg°/kg b.w., control: distilled water) by gavage, followed by a 19 weeks post-treatment period. Spontaneous motility, psychomotor performance and sensorimotor gating was repeatedly tested, electrophysiological recordings done, in the rats throughout the whole experiment. Decreased horizontal open field activity, reduced number of "noise positive" startle responses, as well as increase of startle response onset latency and peak time, and decrease of peak amplitude, was seen in the treated animals. Most changes disappeared in the post-treatment period. In the spontaneous cortical and hippocampal activity, altered distribution of the frequency bands was seen after 5 weeks of treatment but not at the end of the post-treatment period. Hippocampal population spikes in the treated animals were depressed and showed less potentiation, which effect was still present 19 weeks after finishing the treatment. The duration of the sensory cortical evoked potentials was shorter than in the controls. In the treated rats, tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive boutons in the substantia nigra pars reticulata were shrunk; blood and brain Hg levels were significantly higher and decreased only slowly. Considering the continuous presence of low levels of mercurials in the human environment, effects of this kind may be supposed as the background of some human neurobehavioral abnormalities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis