The antagonistic effect of selenium (Se) on mercury (Hg) toxicity has been known for decades. Earlier studies mainly focused on Hg-Se interaction based on biokinetics and bioaccumulation, but the influences of Se on in vivo biotransformation of methylmercury (MeHg) have not been well understood. We conducted a 42-day exposure study to investigate the dynamic changes of MeHg and its primary degradation product - inorganic mercury (IHg) - in different organs of black seabream (Acanthopagrus schlegeli) exposed to different dietary Se levels. A physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model was then developed to describe the biotransformation and disposition of MeHg under the influence of Se. Our results demonstrated that Se significantly increased the transformation from MeHg into IHg, thereby decreasing the accumulation of MeHg. The simulation further showed that the intestine was the major site for demethylation, with an estimated rate 1.5-fold higher in high Se treatment than in low Se treatment. However, the hepatic demethylation rate was extremely low and comparable between the two treatments (0.012–0.015 d−1). These results strongly suggested that the intestine instead of the commonly assumed liver was the major site for Hg-Se interaction. Furthermore, Se did not show significant influences on the distribution and elimination of MeHg, but promoted the uptake and elimination of the generated IHg from demethylation. Therefore, Se-induced demethylation especially in the intestine played an important role in mitigating the MeHg accumulation. This study provided new sight to elucidate the Hg-Se interaction in fish.
Environmental Pollution – Elsevier
Published: Dec 1, 2017
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