We quantified the level of dietary mercury (Hg), delivered as methylmercury chloride (CH3HgCl), associated with negative effects on organ and plasma biochemistries related to glutathione (GSH) metabolism and oxidative stress, and chromosomal damage in captive-reared common loon (Gavia immer) chicks reared from hatch to 105 days. Mercury-associated effects related to oxidative stress and altered glutathione metabolism occurred at 1.2 :g Hg/g and 0.4 :g Hg/g, an ecologically relevant dietary mercury level, but not at 0.08 :g Hg/g. Among the variables that contributed most to dissimilarities in tissue chemistries between control and treatment groups were increased levels of oxidized glutathione (GSSG), GSH peroxidase, and the ratio of GSSG to GSH in brain tissue; increased levels of hepatic GSH; and decreased levels of hepatic glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G-6-PDH). Our results also suggest that chronic exposure to environmentally relevant dietary Hg levels did not result in statistically significant somatic chromosomal damage in common loon chicks. Oxidative stress and altered glutathione metabolism were evident in common loon chicks exposed to >0.4 :g Hg as CH3HgCl per gram wet food intake.
Additional publication details
Effects of methylmercury exposure on glutathione metabolism, oxidative stress, and chromosomal damage in captive-reared common loon (Gavia immer) chicks