Prenatal exposure to methylmercury alters development of adrenergic receptor binding sites in peripheral sympathetic target tissues.
In order to assess the impact of prenatal exposure to methylmercury on sympathetic neurotransmission, effects on development of adrenergic receptor binding sites in peripheral tissues were evaluated. In the liver, methylmercury produced a dose-dependent increase in alpha 1-, alpha 2- and beta-receptor binding of radioligands throughout the first 5 weeks of postnatal life. Similarly, renal alpha-receptor subtypes showed increased binding capabilities, but binding to beta-receptor sites was reduced. At least some of the changes in receptors appear to be of functional significance, as physiological reactivity to adrenergic stimulation is altered in the same directions in these two tissues. The actions of methylmercury displayed tissue specificity in that the same receptor populations were largely unaffected in other tissues (lung, heart). These results suggest that methylmercury exposure in utero alters adrenergic responses through targeted effects on postsynaptic receptor populations in specific tissues.
Slotkin, TA; Orband, L; Cowdery, T; Kavlock, RJ; Bartolome, J
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