Journal Article

Genomic Analysis of the Rat Lung following Elemental Mercury Vapor Exposure

Jie Liu, Dawei Lei, Michael P. Waalkes, Robert P. Beliles and Daniel L. Morgan

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 74, issue 1, pages 174-181
Published in print July 2003 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online July 2003 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI:
Genomic Analysis of the Rat Lung following Elemental Mercury Vapor Exposure

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Elemental mercury (Hg0) is a highly toxic chemical with increasing public health concern. Although the lung receives the highest exposure to Hg0 vapor, it is resistant to Hg0 toxicity relative to the kidney and brain. In an earlier study, exposure of rats to 4 mg Hg0 vapor/m3, 2 h per day for 10 days, did not produce pathological alterations in the lung but increased metallothionein and glutathione S-transferase in the kidney. This study was undertaken to examine pulmonary gene expression associated with Hg0 vapor inhalation. Total RNA was extracted from lung tissues of rats, previously exposed to air or Hg0 vapor, and subjected to microarray analysis. Hg0 vapor exposure increased the expression of genes encoding inflammatory responses, such as chemokines, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα), TNF-receptor-1, interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-7, prostaglandin E2 receptor, and heat-shock proteins. As adaptive responses, glutathione S-transferases (GST-pi, mGST1), metallothionein, and thioredoxin peroxidase were all increased in response to Hg exposure. Some transporters, such as multidrug resistance-associated protein (MRP), P-glycoprotein, and zinc transporter ZnT1, were also increased in an attempt to reduce pulmonary Hg load. The expression of transcription factor c-jun/AP-1 and PI3-kinases was suppressed, while the expression of protein kinase-C was increased. Expression of epidermal fatty acid-binding protein was also enhanced. Real-time RT-PCR and Western blot analyses confirmed the microarray results. In summary, genomic analysis revealed an array of gene alterations in response to Hg0 vapor exposure, which could be important for the development of pulmonary adaptation to Hg during Hg0 vapor inhalation.

Keywords: mercury vapor inhalation; lung; microarray; gene expression; adaptation

Journal Article.  5425 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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