Hormetic effects of acute methylmercury exposure on GRP78 expression in rat brain cortex

Ye Zhang, Rongzhu Lu, Wenshuai Liu, Ying Wu, Hai Qian, Xiaowu Zhao, Suhua Wang, Guangwei Xing, Feng Yu, Michael Aschner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This study aims to explore the expression of GRP78, a marker of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, in the cortex of rat brains acutely exposed to methylmercury (MeHg). Thirty Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats were randomly divided into six groups, and decapitated 6 hours (h) after intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of MeHg (2, 4, 6, 8 or 10 mg/kg body weight) or normal saline. Protein and mRNA expression of Grp78 were detected by western blotting and real-time PCR, respectively. The results showed that a gradual increase in GRP78 protein expression was observed in the cortex of rats acutely exposed to MeHg (2, 4 or 6 mg/kg). Protein levels peaked in the 6 mg/kg group (p < 0.05 vs. controls), decreased in the 8 mg/kg group, and bottomed below the control level in the 10 mg/kg group. Parallel changes were noted for Grp78 mRNA expression. It may be implied that acute exposure to MeHg induced hormetic dose-dependent changes in Grp78 mRNA and protein expression, suggesting that activation of ER stress is involved in MeHg-induced neurotoxicity. Low level MeHg exposure may induce GRP78 protein expression to stimulate endogenous cytoprotective mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-120
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cortex
  • Endoplasmic reticulum stress
  • GRP78
  • Methylmercury
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Chemical Health and Safety


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