Plant components can reduce methylmercury toxication: A mini-review

Jie Chang, Yun Zhou, Qiang Wang, Michael Aschner, Rongzhu Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Methylmercury (MeHg) is a ubiquitous environmental pollutant, with the nervous system as its main target; however, the neurotoxic mechanisms of MeHg have not been fully elucidated, and no effective therapeutic and preventive drugs are available to mitigate its toxicity. Recent evidence suggests a reduction in the toxicity of MeHg by natural plant extracts. Scope of review: The aim of this review is to provide an overview of effective natural plant extracts and their putative biochemical mechanisms for blocking gut absorption, enhancing excretion and minimizing toxic effects of MeHg. Major conclusions: Natural plant extracts may act as potential therapeutics in response to MeHg exposure. The roles plant components play in the reduction of MeHg toxicity may be multifaceted including: (1) attenuating neurobehavioral deficits; (2) facilitating demethylation of MeHg to inorganic mercury; (3) reducing MeHg absorption from the gastrointestinal tract; (4) redistributing MeHg to less sensitive target organs and tissues; (5) promoting enterohepatic circulation of MeHg to increase its biliary and intestinal excretion; (6) restoring intracellular redox status. General significance: The possible protective effects of natural plant components contribute to the understanding of mechanisms of MeHg toxicity and to the development of novel therapeutic strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number129290
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Methylmercury
  • Natural plant components
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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