Effects of mercury and selenium on glutathione metabolism and oxidative stress in mallard ducks

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
By:  and 



Earlier studies reported on the toxicity and related oxidative stress of different forms of Se, including seleno-D,L-methionine, in mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). This study compares the effects of Se (seleno-D,L-methionine) and Hg (methylmercury chloride) separately and in combination. Mallard drakes received one of the following diets: untreated feed (controls), or feed containing 10 ppm Se, 10 ppm Hg, or 10 ppm Se in combination with 10 ppm Hg. After 10 weeks, blood, liver, and brain samples were collected for biochemical assays. The following clinical and biochemical alterations occurred in response to mercury exposure: hematocrit and hemoglobin concentrations decreased; activities of the enzymes glutathione (GSH) peroxidase (plasma and liver), glutathione-S-transferase (liver), and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G-6-PDH) (liver and brain) decreased; hepatic oxidized glutathione (GSSG) concentration increased relative to reduced glutathione (GSH); and lipid peroxidation in the brain was evident as detected by increased thiobarbituric reactive substances (TBARS). Effects of Se alone included increased hepatic GSSG reductase activity and brain TBARS concentration. Se in combination with Hg partially or totally alleviated effects of Hg on GSH peroxidase, G-6-PDH, and GSSG. These findings are compared in relation to field observations for diving ducks and other aquatic birds. It is concluded that since both Hg and excess Se can affect thiol status, measurement of associated enzymes in conjunction with thiol status may be a useful bioindicator to discriminate between Hg and Se effects. The ability of Se to restore the activities of G-6-PDH, GSH peroxidase, and glutathione status involved in antioxidative defense mechanisms may be crucial to biological protection from the toxic effects of methyl mercury.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effects of mercury and selenium on glutathione metabolism and oxidative stress in mallard ducks
Series title Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Volume 17
Issue 2
Year Published 1998
Language English
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 161-166
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
First page 161
Last page 166
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