Mercury concentrations in brain and kidney following ethylmercury, methylmercury and Thimerosal administration to neonatal mice

Toxicol Lett. 2004 Dec 30;154(3):183-9. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2004.07.014.


The distribution of mercury to the brain following an injection of methylmercury (MeHg) or ethylmercury (EtHg) was examined in immature mice. Postnatal day (PND) 16 CD1 mice received MeHg chloride either by IM injection or by gavage. At 24 h and 7 days post-injection, total mercury concentrations were determined in blood, kidney, brain, and muscle by cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectrometry. At 24 h, an IM injection of MeHg chloride (17.4 microg) produced total mercury concentrations in the blood (6.2 +/- 0.9 microg/g), brain (5.6 +/- 1.3 microg; 0.6% delivered dose), and kidney (25.2 +/- 5.6 microg; 1.1%), approximately 30% of that obtained from oral administration (blood: 17.9 +/- 1.0 microg; brain: 16.1 +/- 1.2 microg, 1.5%; kidney: 64.9 +/- 6.3 microg, 2.7%). For comparison, PND 16 mice received an IM injection of concentrated dosing suspensions (2 microl dosing vol.) for EtHg chloride (6 microg) or Thimerosal (15.4 microg). For EtHg, approximately 0.39 +/- 0.06% of the injected mercury was detected in the brain and 3.5 +/- 0.6% in the kidney at 24 h. Thimerosal IM injection resulted in 0.22 +/- 0.04% in the brain, and 1.7 +/- 0.3% in the kidney. By 7 days, mercury levels decreased in the blood but were unchanged in the brain. An acute IM injection to adult mice of each suspension at a 10-fold higher dose resulted an average 0.1% mercury in the brain, and higher levels in the blood, kidney, and muscle as compared to the young. In immature mice, MeHg delivered via oral route of administration resulted in significantly greater tissue levels as compared to levels from IM injection. Comparisons of tissue distribution following IM administration suggest that an oral route of administration for mercury is not comparable to an IM delivery and that MeHg does not appear to be a good model for EtHg-containing compounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Ethylmercuric Chloride / administration & dosage
  • Ethylmercuric Chloride / pharmacokinetics*
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mercury / pharmacokinetics*
  • Methylmercury Compounds / administration & dosage
  • Methylmercury Compounds / pharmacokinetics*
  • Mice
  • Thimerosal / administration & dosage
  • Thimerosal / pharmacokinetics*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Methylmercury Compounds
  • Thimerosal
  • Mercury
  • Ethylmercuric Chloride
  • methylmercuric chloride