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Octanol/Water Partition Coefficients as a Model System for Assessing Antidotes for Methylmercury(II) Poisoning, and for Studying Mercurials with Medicinal Applications

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-26, 15:59 authored by Canty, AJ, Moors, PW, Deacon, GB
l-Octanol/water partition coefficients, mercury concentration in octanol divided by mercury concentration in water, provide a simple but limited model system for aspects of the biological behavior of methylmercury and commonly used organomercury medicinal compounds. In an octanol/water system some widely studied antidotes for mercury poisoning at least partly displace the biological thiols L-cysteine and glutathione from binding to methylmercury at pH 6.9. Addition of the antidote meso-dimercaptosuccinic acid to methylmercury in the presence of glutathione results in formation of metallic mercury. For organomercury (RHg) derivatives of L-cysteine and glutathione, octanol/water partition coefficients fol1ow the order R = Ph > Et > Me. An exceptional1y high value for diphenylmercury, compared with PhHg derivatives of L-cysteine and glutathione, is consistent with reported results of the distribution of mercury compounds in rats. Ethylmercury(II) is partly displaced from thimerosal by L-cysteine and glutathione in the octanol/water system, indicating that the active form of thimerosal in vivo may involve binding of ethylmercury to biological ligands.


Publication title

Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry



Article number







Joural of Iorgaic Biochemistry

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