In utero exposure to mercury is associated with increased susceptibility to liver injury and inflammation in childhood
Keywords: 
Área de Biomedicina
Issue Date: 
2021
ISSN: 
0270-9139
Citation: 
Stratakis, N.; Golden-Mason, L.; Margetaki, K.; et al. "In Utero exposure to mercury is associated with increased susceptibility to liver injury and inflammation in childhood". Hepatology. 74 (3), 2021, 1546 - 1559
Abstract
Background and Aims Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most prevalent cause of liver disease in children. Mercury (Hg), a ubiquitous toxic metal, has been proposed as an environmental factor contributing to toxicant-associated fatty liver disease. Approach and Results We investigated the effect of prenatal exposure to Hg on childhood liver injury by combining epidemiological results from a multicenter mother-child cohort with complementary in vitro experiments on monocyte cells that are known to play a key role in liver immune homeostasis and NAFLD. We used data from 872 mothers and their children (median age, 8.1 years; interquartile range [IQR], 6.5-8.7) from the European Human Early-Life Exposome cohort. We measured Hg concentration in maternal blood during pregnancy (median, 2.0 mu g/L; IQR, 1.1-3.6). We also assessed serum levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT), a common screening tool for pediatric NAFLD, and plasma concentrations of inflammation-related cytokines in children. We found that prenatal Hg exposure was associated with a phenotype in children that was characterized by elevated ALT (>= 22.1 U/L for females and >= 25.8 U/L for males) and increased concentrations of circulating IL-1 beta, IL-6, IL-8, and TNF-alpha.

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