Inhibitory effect of selenium on biliary secretion of methyl mercury in rats

Tsutomu Urano, Nobumasa Imura, Akira Naganuma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


The inhibitory effect of sodium selenite on biliary secretion of methyl mercury was examined in rats. The biliary secretion of methyl mercury in rat treated with 1 μmol/kg of methyl mercury was significantly decreased by administration of selenite at doses of 0.05 μmol/kg or higher. In rats given 10 μmol/kg of methyl mercury, marked depression of biliary secretion of mercury was observed when selenite was injected at a dose of 0.2 μmol/kg. On the other hand, secretion of substantial amounts of selenium was observed when biliary secretion of mercury was depressed. When the concentration of selenium in the bile was higher than 5 nmol/ml, biliary secretion of mercury was markedly depressed independently of the dose of methyl mercury administered (1 μmol/kg or 10 μmol/kg). These results suggest that the degree of inhibitory effect of selenite may be determined by the selenium concentration in the liver or the bile after treatment with selenite rather than the molar ratio of the dose of methyl mercury and selenite. We concluded that the decrease in biliary secretion of methyl mercury induced by selenite may result from inhibition of pathway for secretion of methyl mercury from liver to bile rather than the direct formation of a compex between methyl mercury and selenium. Methyl mercury has been considered to be secreted from liver to bile as a complex with glutathione (GSH). However, administration of selenite did not affect biliary secretion of GSH or hepatic glutathione S-transferase activity. Moreover, gel filtration of liver cytosol demonstrated that the distribution pattern of hepatic methyl mercury between macromolecules and GSH was not significantly changed by administration of selenite. These results suggest that selenite does not affect complex formation of methyl mercury with GSH at least in the liver. Selenite might specifically inhibit the activity of the canalicular transporter(s) which transport complexes of methyl mercury and GSH from the liver to bile.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)862-867
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and biophysical research communications
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1997 Oct 29

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Inhibitory effect of selenium on biliary secretion of methyl mercury in rats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this