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Age-related increase in auditory impairment in monkeys exposed in utero plus postnatally to methylmercury.

Authors
  • Rice, D C
Type
Published Article
Journal
Toxicological Sciences
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
Aug 01, 1998
Volume
44
Issue
2
Pages
191–196
Identifiers
PMID: 9742657
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Hearing impairment and deafness have been reported as a result of developmental and adult exposure to methylmercury; however, objective assessment of auditory function is generally lacking. This study extends previous research in our laboratory in which monkeys exposed to methylmercury from birth to adulthood exhibited high-frequency hearing impairment. Monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) were exposed throughout gestation and postnatally until 4 years of age to 0, 10, 25, or 50 micrograms/kg/day mercury as methylmercuric chloride. When they were 11 and 19 years of age, pure-tone detection thresholds for six frequencies between 0.125 and 31.5 kHz were determined by means of a psychophysical (behavioral) procedure. At 19 years of age, all five methylmercury-exposed monkeys exhibited elevated pure-tone thresholds compared with controls. Impairment was generally observed across the full range of frequencies. Comparisons of performance at 11 and 19 years revealed relatively greater deterioration in function in treated compared with control monkeys. These results extend previously reported evidence of deficits in auditory function produced by postnatal methylmercury exposure, and describe a pattern of deficit across frequencies different than that observed in the previous study. This study also provides evidence for development or acceleration of impairment of auditory function during aging as a consequence of developmental methylmercury exposure.

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