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Effects of methylmercury on harbour seal peripheral blood leucocytes in vitro studied by electron microscopy
Dupont, A.; De Pauw-Gillet, M.-C.; Schnitzler, J.; Siebert, U.; Das, K. (2016). Effects of methylmercury on harbour seal peripheral blood leucocytes in vitro studied by electron microscopy. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 70(1): 133-142. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00244-015-0207-y
In: Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. Springer: New York. ISSN 0090-4341; e-ISSN 1432-0703
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Dupont, A.
  • De Pauw-Gillet, M.-C.
  • Schnitzler, J.
  • Siebert, U.
  • Das, K.

Abstract
    Methylmercury (MeHg) is highly immunotoxic and can alter the health status of the harbour seal, Phoca vitulina, from the North Sea. To investigate the mechanism of MeHg-induced toxicity in harbour seal lymphocytes, Concanavalin A (ConA)-stimulated peripheral blood leucocytes were exposed in vitro to sublethal concentrations of MeHgCl (0.2, 1, and 2 µM) for 72 h and then analysed for their viability and ultrastructure. After 72 h of incubation, cells were counted with a propidium iodide staining technique, a metabolic MTS assay was performed, and cells exposed to 1 µM of MeHgCl were observed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Alive cell numbers decreased with increased MeHgCl concentrations. In presence of ConA and 1 µM of MeHgCl, TEM images revealed a higher frequency of apoptotic cells. Exposed cells displayed condensation of the chromatin at the nuclear membrane and mitochondrial damages. The results suggest that in vitro MeHgCl-induced apoptosis in harbour seal lymphocytes through a mitochondrial pathway.

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