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It is known that, as the vast majority of the anthropogenically emitted mercury can be found in aquatic ecosystems, where several methylating bacteria are present, fish consumption represents the most critical intake source of the most toxic form of mercury, the methylmercury (MeHg). The aim of this work is to predict MeHg levels in the fish muscles which, being the edible portion, are part of the human diet. A physiologically based toxicokinetics model was developed to evaluate the kinetics of MeHg in red mullets. Fishes were described by means of a multi-compartment model including stomach, gut, blood, muscles and an additional compartment virtually encompassing all the remaining organs. Absorption, distribution and excretion were modelled considering different MeHg routes of administration and excretion: intake by ingestion of contaminated food, intake and elimination through inhalation-exhalation and excretion through feces. The model has been firstly validated on Terapon jarbua fish (using the weighted least squares method for parameter estimation) to be subsequently readapted to predict methylmercury concentrations in the muscle of red mullets (using an approximate Bayesian computation approach). This simple multicompartmental model could be considered part, a link in the chain, of a wider more complex project aiming at tracking the fate of MeHg from polluted seawater to the human end consumer. The present study could be useful to surveillance organizations in order to carry out a more comprehensive and informed risk assessment analysis and to take appropriate preventive measures by evaluating possible new MeHg concentration thresholds to minimize public health hazards. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Francesca Pellicanò, Laura D'Orsi, Andrea De Gaetano, Simona Panunzi. A population approach for the estimation of methylmercury ToxicoKinetics in red mullets. Toxicology and applied pharmacology. 2021 Oct 01;428:115679

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PMID: 34400196

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