The distribution of 63Ni- and 14C-labelled nickel carbonyl was studied in mice by whole-body autoradiography and by liquid scintillation counting. Radioactivity from Ni(14CO)4 was found almost exclusively in the blood, probably because of the formation of 14CO-haemoglobin. After the administration of 63Ni(CO)4 the highest level of 63Ni was found in the lung. Other tissues accumulating a high amount of 63Ni were the brain and spinal cord, the heart muscle, the diaphragm, brown fat, the adrenal cortex and the corpora lutea of the ovaries. A high level of 63Ni was also present in the kidneys and the urinary bladder. Experiments designed to establish whether the nickel in the lung, the brain, the heart muscle and the blood was present in a non-ionised form, or as a cation, suggest that nickel is bound to these tissues in the cationic state (Ni++).
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