Lab Anim Res.  2011 Sep;27(3):219-225. 10.5625/lar.2011.27.3.219.

Inorganic lead (Pb)- and mercury (Hg)-induced neuronal cell death involves cytoskeletal reorganization

  • 1College of Veterinary Medicine, Konkuk University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Department of Cellular & Physiological Sciences, Life Sciences Institute, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Inorganic lead and mercury are widely spread xenobiotic neurotoxicants threatening public health. The exposure to inorganic lead and mercury results in adverse effects of poisoning including IQ deficit and peripheral neuropathy. Additionally, inorganic neurotoxicants have even more serious impact on earlier stages of embryonic development. This study was therefore initiated in order to determine the cytotoxic effects of lead and mercury in earlier developmental stages of chick embryo. Administration of inorganic lead and mercury into the chick embryo resulted in the prolonged accumulation of inorganics in the neonatal brain, with detrimental cytotoxicity on neuronal cells. Subsequent studies demonstrated that exposure of chick embryo to inorganic lead and mercury resulted in the reorganization of cytoskeletal proteins in the neonatal brain. These results therefore suggest that inorganics-mediated cytoskeletal reorganization of the structural proteins, resulting in neurocytotoxicity, is one of the underlying mechanisms by which inorganics transfer deleterious effects on central nervous system.


Lead; mercury; neurotoxicity; tubulin; tau; chick embryo
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