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Methylmercury-induced inhibition of paraoxonase-1 (PON1)-implications for cardiovascular risk

Version 2 2024-06-07, 00:31
Version 1 2015-03-03, 11:37
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-07, 00:31 authored by G Ginsberg, B Sonawane, R Nath, P Lewandowski
Methylmercury (MeHg) has been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease in some but not all epidemiology studies. These inconsistent results may stem from the fact that exposure typically occurs in the context of fish consumption, which is also associated with cardioprotective factors such as omega-3 fatty acids. Mechanistic information may help to understand whether MeHg represents a risk to cardiovascular health. MeHg is a pro-oxidant that inactivates protein sulfhydryls. These biochemical effects may diminish critical antioxidant defense mechanism(s) involved in protecting against atherosclerosis. One such defense mechanism is paraoxonase-1 (PON1), an enzyme present on high-density lipoproteins and that prevents the oxidation of blood lipids and their deposition in vascular endothelium. PON1 is potentially useful as a clinical biomarker of cardiovascular risk, as well as a critical enzyme in the detoxification of certain organophosphate oxons. MeHg and other metals are known to inhibit PON1 activity in vitro. MeHg is associated with lowered serum PON1 activity in a fish-eating population. The implications of lowering PON1 are evaluated by predicting the shift in PON1 population distribution induced by various doses of MeHg. An MeHg dose of 0.3 μg/kg/d is estimated to decrease the population average PON1 level by 6.1% and to increase population risk of acute cardiovascular events by 9.7%. This evaluation provides a plausible mechanism for MeHg-induced cardiovascular risk and suggests means to quantify the risk. This case study exemplifies the use of upstream disease biomarkers to evaluate the additive effect of chemical toxicity with background disease processes in assessing human risk.



Journal of toxicology and environmental health, Part A: current issues






Abingdon, Eng.





Publication classification

C Journal article, C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2014, Taylor & Francis




Taylor & Francis