Inorganic mercury changes the fate of murine CNS stem cells

FASEB J. 2003 May;17(8):869-71. doi: 10.1096/fj.02-0491fje. Epub 2003 Mar 28.


Stem cells isolated from the central nervous system of both embryonic and adult mice can generate neurons and glia through the activation of different patterns of differentiation in dependence of exposure to appropriate epigenetic signals. On the other hand, environmental conditions might affect the proliferation, migration, and differentiation of these cells. We report here, for the first time, that inorganic mercury affects the proliferative and differentiative capacity of adult neuronal stem cells (ANSCs). Actually, inorganic mercury increases apoptosis in ASNC. Furthermore, in stem cell-derived astrocytes, high levels of the 70 kDa heat shock protein (HSP-70) occur, while the levels of GTP-beta-tubulin activity dramatically decrease. Interestingly, when induced to differentiate, inorganic mercury modifies morphological proprieties of astrocytes, while the neuron population is reduced. These results demonstrate that inorganic mercury produces toxicity in the ANSC-derived neuronal population and affects the biological properties of the glial-derived population.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / cytology
  • Astrocytes / drug effects
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Guanosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • HSC70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / drug effects
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Mercury / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Tubulin / biosynthesis
  • Tubulin / metabolism


  • HSC70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Hspa8 protein, mouse
  • Tubulin
  • Guanosine Triphosphate
  • Mercury