Mercury Concentrations in Sheep Organs and Tissues After Loading the Organism with Extremely Low-Doses

Veterinarni Medicina 37, 1992, 231-235

Experiments were carried out with six sheep of the Slovak Merino breed, weighing 22-28 kg. For 28 days the animals were given 4, mg inorganic Hg2+ in the feed per animal/day. In contrast with the controls, the following residual mercury concentrations were determined in the single organs and tissues: liver 1.580 +/- 0.326 Hg2+ and 0.091 +/- 0.014 Hg2+, respectively muscle 0.064 +/- 0.009 Hg2+, and 0.026 +/- 0.006 mg kg-1 Hg2+, resp. spleen 0.142 +/- 0.025 He2+, and 0.022 +/- 0.010 Hg2+, resp. kidney 9.054 +/- 3.794 Hg2+, and 0.128 +/- 0.080 mg. kg-1 Hg2+, resp. [Fig. 1], abomasal contents 0.309 +/- 0-069 Hg2+, and 0.021 +/- 0.007 Hg2+, resp. large intestinal contents 0.267 +/- 0.058 Hg2+, and 0.043 +/- 0.004 -1 Hg2+, resp. The results suggest that the long-term ingestion of mercury with feed leads to a pronounced Hg accumulation in the kidneys and liver. Much lower levels were observed in the muscle tissue and spleen. The affinity of mercury to the kidney and liver is probably related to the preferential bonds of organic mercury compounds to the SH- groups of the plasma proteins in these organs. It is the bond to the sulphhydril groups of proteins that results in the inhibition of proteosynthesis and thus enzyme and antibody inhibition. Under the conditions of continuing chemical contamination of the environment, a permanent supply of low concentrations of heavy metals the animal organism is observed. A chronical adverse effect of mercury and its compounds on the production and reproduction of both farm and wildly living animals has to be taken into account

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