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International Journal of Immunology Research

Vol. 6, Issue 1, Part A (2024)

Immunotoxicity caused by excessive mercury exposure: A brief overview


Piusha Mondal and Priyankar Pal


Mercury (Hg) is a widely dispersed environmental and industrial xenobiotic. The threat of mercury exposure to human populations is alarming and can arise through an array of pathways, including occupational, food contamination, excessive use of medicinal or cosmetic treatments, and fossil fuel emissions. The chemical forms of Hg include inorganic mercury (iHg), organic mercury (oHg), and elemental mercury (Hg0). Among them, oHg is most frequently found as (mono) methyl mercury (MeHg) and ethyl mercury (EtHg). Cytotoxicity of mercury in its divalent ionic form, Hg+2, has been related to cellular oxidative stress, and reaction of Hg+2 with thiols results in the creation of mercaptans, which deplete the thiol-based antioxidant buffers made up primarily of glutathione in cells. The literature has consistently noted elevated GSSG/GSH ratio and H2O2 generation in various cell exposed to mercury-containing chemicals. It has been known that mercury indemnities the immune system function, most likely due to its damaging effects on polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs). Mercury is also thought to suppress the production of adrenocorticosteroids, which prevents the normal stimulation of PMNs and also has an impact on PMN function by impairing their capacity to destroy the foreign substances. Mercury can affect immune cell activity and formation, as well as regulate the synthesis of interferon-gamma and interleukin-2 in the central nervous system. Hg has been demonstrated to increase explosion and cytokine synthesis from the T lymphocytes. Mercuric chloride (HgCl2) endorses the release of histamine as well as cytokines, such as IL-4 and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), from mast cells. Additionally, HgCl2 increases the secretion of the histamine from a rat basophil cell line and immunoglobulin E-mediated arbitrator release from the human basophils. Several immune or autoimmune diseases, such as autism/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, allergic disease, eczema, arthritis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autoimmune thyroiditis, epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, scleroderma, schizophrenia, and systemic lupus erythematosus, are linked to mercury toxicity. The review research has focused on the mechanistic theory of immunological damage caused by mercury.

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International Journal of Immunology Research
How to cite this article:
Piusha Mondal and Priyankar Pal. Immunotoxicity caused by excessive mercury exposure: A brief overview. Int. J. Immunol. Res. 2024;6(1):01-03. DOI: 10.33545/26648865.2024.v6.i1a.21
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