Navarro-Sempere, A., Garcia, M., Rodrigues, A., Garcia, P.V., Camarinho, R. & Segovia Y. (2021) Occurrence of volcanogenic inorganic mercury in wild mice spinal cord: potential health implications.Biological Trace Elements Research, Online early, . DOI:10.1007/s12011-021-02890-0 (IF2020 3,738; Q3 Biochemistry & Molecular Biology)
Mercury accumulation has been proposed as a toxic factor that causes neurodegenerative diseases. However, the hazardous health effects of gaseous elemental mercury exposure on the spinal cord in volcanic areas have not been reported previously in the literature. To evaluate the presence of volcanogenic inorganic mercury in the spinal cord, a study was carried out in São Miguel island (Azores, Portugal) by comparing the spinal cord of mice exposed chronically to an active volcanic environment (Furnas village) with individuals not exposed (Rabo de Peixe village), through the autometallographic silver enhancement histochemical method. Moreover, a morphometric and quantification analysis of the axons was carried out. Results exhibited mercury deposits at the lumbar level of the spinal cord in the specimens captured at the site with volcanic activity (Furnas village). A decrease in axon calibre and axonal atrophy was also observed in these specimens. Given that these are relevant hallmarks in the neurodegenerative pathologies, our results highlight the importance of the surveillance of the health of populations chronically exposed to active volcanic environments.