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Uptake of Mercury by the Brain
  1. L. Magos
  1. Toxicology Research Unit, Medical Research Council Laboratories, Woodmansterne Road, Carshalton, Surrey


    A technique has been developed for injecting metallic mercury intravenously in aqueous solution. Thirty seconds after intravenous injection of rats with 0·1 μg. metallic mercury labelled with 203Hg nearly 20% of the dose had been exhaled and the concentration in the brain was nearly as high as in the blood. After injection of mercuric ion little of the dose was exhaled, and brain uptake was much less. Oxidation of mercury in the blood was, therefore, not instantaneous, and the rapid transport of the unconverted metallic mercury to the brain and its subsequent rapid diffusion from the blood was responsible for the high level of mercury in the brain after exposure to mercury vapour. The technique might be useful for the study of the passage of highly diffusible vapours through the respiratory membranes.

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