Guarana improves behavior and inflammatory alterations triggered by methylmercury exposure: an in vivo fruit fly and in vitro neural cells study

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2019 May;26(15):15069-15083. doi: 10.1007/s11356-019-04881-0. Epub 2019 Mar 27.


Methylmercury (MeHg) is a well-known environmental pollutant associated with neurological and developmental deficits in animals and humans. However, epidemiological data showed that people living in the Amazon region although exposed to MeHg do not present these effects probably due to the protective effect of certain foods. We hypothesized here if guarana, a highly caffeinated fruit and consumed on a daily basis by Amazon people, could have some protective effect against MeHg toxicity using two complementary approaches. To assess locomotor impairment and sleep disruption, we used fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) model, and to evaluate neuroinflammation, we used human SH-SY5Y neural cells by measuring inflammatory cytokines levels. Results showed that guarana had a protective effect on the locomotor activity of male fruit flies reducing the excessive sleepiness caused by MeHg and increasing daily activity. Also, guarana increased the viability of flies and attenuated neural cells mortality. In addition, guarana reduced all pro-inflammatory cytokines levels increased by MeHg, along with caspase-1, caspase -3, caspase-8, and 8-dOHG levels, whereas increased the anti-inflammatory (IL-10) cytokine levels, which was decreased by MeHg. Our study provides new insights on the protective effects of guarana on the viability, locomotor activity, sleep, and activity patterns in vivo and the in vitro neuronal anti-inflammatory effect against MeHg toxicity.

Keywords: Drosophila active monitoring system (DAMS); Drosophila melanogaster; Locomotor impairment; Methylmercury (MeHg); Neuroinflammation; Paullinia cupana; SH-SY5Y neural cells; Sleep disorders.

MeSH terms

  • 8-Hydroxy-2'-Deoxyguanosine
  • Animals
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Circadian Rhythm / drug effects
  • Deoxyguanosine / analogs & derivatives
  • Deoxyguanosine / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / drug effects*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / chemically induced*
  • Inflammation / prevention & control
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism
  • Methylmercury Compounds / toxicity*
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Paullinia*


  • Methylmercury Compounds
  • Interleukin-10
  • 8-Hydroxy-2'-Deoxyguanosine
  • Caspases
  • Deoxyguanosine