Effects of mercury and lead on rubidium uptake and efflux in cultured rat astrocytes

Michael Aschner, Richard Chen, Harold K. Kimelberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Astrocytes readily sequester lead and mercury (8, 10, 19, 22). Accordingly, studies were undertaken to assess the effects of lead and mercury on homeostatic functions in neonatal rat brain primary astrocyte cultures. Both inorganic and organic mercury, but not lead, significantly inhibited the initial rate (5 min) of uptake of 86RbCl, used as a tracer for K+, at concentrations of 10-100 μM. Mercury and to a lesser extent lead also stimulated the efflux of intracellular 86Rb+ at 10-500 μM. These observations suggest that the astrocyte plasma membrane may be an important target for lead and mercury, and that relatively low concentrations of these heavy metals should inhibit the ability of astrocytes to maintain a transmembrane K+ gradient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)639-642
Number of pages4
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrocytes
  • Lead
  • Mercuric mercury
  • Methylmercury
  • Na-K-ATPase
  • Rat
  • Rubidium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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