Navarro-Sempere, A., Martínez-Peinado, P., Rodrigues, A.S., Garcia, P.V., Camarinho, R., Grindlay, G., Gras, L., García, M. & Segovia, Y. (2023) Metallothionein expression in the central nervous system in response to chronic heavy metal exposure: possible neuroprotective mechanism.Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 45(11), 8257-8269. DOI:10.1007/s10653-023-01722-5 (IF2020 4,898; Q2 Environmental Sciences)
It has been reported that volcanoes release several tonnes of mercury per year among other heavy metals through eruptions, fumaroles, or diffuse soil degassing. Since a high percentage of the world's population lives in the vicinity of an active volcano, the aim of this study is to evaluate the accumulation of these metals in the central nervous system and the presence of cellular mechanisms of heavy metal detoxification such as metallothioneins. To carry out this study, wild mice (Mus musculus) chronically exposed to an active volcanic environment were captured in Furnas village (Azores, Portugal) and compared with those trapped in a reference area (Rabo de Peixe, Azores, Portugal). On the one hand, the heavy metal load has been evaluated by analyzing brain and cerebellum using ICP-MS and a mercury analyzer and on the other hand, the presence of metallothionein 2A has been studied by immunofluorescence assays. Our results show a higher load of metals such as mercury, cadmium and lead in the central nervous system of exposed mice compared to non-exposed individuals and, in addition, a higher immunoreactivity for metallothionein 2A in different areas of the cerebrum and cerebellum indicating a possible neuroprotection process.