The in vitro effects of selenomethionine on methylmercury-induced neurotoxicity

Parvinder Kaur, Lars Evje, Michael Aschner, Tore Syversen

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32 Scopus citations


Selenium (Se) has been reported to reduce the severity of MeHg-induced neurological deficits. Therefore, we investigated whether 24 h. preincubation or 50 min. coincubation with selenomethionine (SeMet) was effective in reducing methylmercury (MeHg)-induced cytotoxicity in C6-glioma and B35-neuronal cell lines. As indicators of cytotoxicity, reduced glutathione (GSH), reactive oxygen species (ROS) and mitochondrial activity (MTT) was assessed. Measurement of GSH with the fluorescent indicator MCB-monochlorobimane indicated that in SeMet preincubated C6 cells, MeHg treatment resulted in a significant (p < 0.001) decrease in GSH levels as compared to coincubation group. Treatment with SeMet did not induce any significant changes in MTT activity in either of the cell lines as compared to the MeHg group. However, the amount of MeHg-induced ROS was significantly reduced (p < 0.001) after SeMet preincubation in both the cell lines. The intracellular Se content was measured with high resolution-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (HR-ICPMS). In both the cell lines the intracellular Se levels increased after pre- and coincubation with 20 and 50 μM SeMet. However, the preincubation group exhibited increased Se content in both the cell lines and varied (p < 0.001) from coincubation group. These differences in the Se content were maintained after 10 μM MeHg treatment for 50 min. In C6-gliomas, the cell associated-MeHg measurements using 14C-labeled MeHg indicated a significant increase (p < 0.001) in MeHg content in preincubated cells as compared to coincubated cells. These findings provide experimental evidence that preincubation with SeMet increases Se content in cells and prevents against increased MeHg-induced ROS generation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-385
Number of pages8
JournalToxicology in Vitro
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell cultures
  • In vitro
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Reduced glutathione
  • Selenomethionine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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