Ultrastructural Evidence for Nephropathy Induced by Long-Term Exposure to Small Amounts of Methyl Mercury

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Science  18 Feb 1972:
Vol. 175, Issue 4023, pp. 780-781
DOI: 10.1126/science.175.4023.780


A low dose of methyl mercuric chloride fed to female rats for 12 weeks caused extrusion of numerous cytoplasmic masses from kidney proximal tubule cells of the pars recta segment. These masses were characterized ultrastructurally by the presence of a smooth endoplasmic reticulum aggregate. The in vivo metabolism of methyl mercury to inorganic mercury may produce this effect and account for the proteinuria observed in persons occupationally exposed to organic mercury compounds.