The antioxidant role of STAT3 in methylmercury-induced toxicity in mouse hypothalamic neuronal GT1-7 cell line

Beatriz Ferrer, Harshini Suresh, Abel Santamaria, João Batista Rocha, Aaron B. Bowman, Michael Aschner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Oxidative stress, impairment of antioxidant defenses, and disruption of calcium homeostasis are associated with the toxicity of methylmercury (MeHg). Yet, the relative contribution and interdependence of these effects and other molecular mechanisms that mediate MeHg-induced neurotoxicity remain uncertain. The signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is a transcription factor that regulates the expression of anti-apoptotic and cell cycle progression genes. In addition to its role in cell growth and survival, STAT3 regulates redox homeostasis and prevents oxidative stress by the modulation of nuclear genes that encode for electron transport complexes (ETC) and antioxidant enzymes. Here we tested the hypothesis that STAT3 contributes to the orchestration of the antioxidant defense response against MeHg injury. We show that MeHg (>1 μM) exposure induced STAT3 activation within 1 h and beyond in mouse hypothalamic neuronal GT1-7 cells in a concentration-and time-dependent manner. Pharmacological inhibition of STAT3 phosphorylation exacerbated MeHg-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and antioxidant responses. Finally, treatment with the antioxidant Trolox demonstrated that MeHg-induced STAT3 activation is mediated, at least in part, by MeHg-induced ROS generation. Combined, our results demonstrated a role for the STAT3 signaling pathway as an early response to MeHg-induced oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-259
Number of pages15
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021


  • Methylmercury
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


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