Mercury and heavy metal profiles of maternal and umbilical cord RBCs in Japanese population

Mineshi Sakamoto, Katsuyuki Murata, Machi Kubota, Kunihiko Nakai, Hiroshi Satoh

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61 Citations (Scopus)


Mercury (Hg) and other heavy metal profiles, namely, lead (Pb), arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), and selenium (Se) were investigated in maternal and umbilical cord (cord) red blood cells (RBCs) at parturition in Japanese population. Correlation coefficients of Hg, Pb, As, Cd, and Se between maternal and cord RBCs were 0.91, 0.79, 0.89, 0.31, and 0.76, respectively, and the respective means of cord/maternal RBCs ratios were 1.63, 0.52, 0.62, 0.12, and 1.18. These results indicate that fetal exposure to these metals (excluding Cd) strongly reflected each maternal exposure level. Among these metals, the placental transfer of methylmercury (MeHg) seemed to be extremely high but that of Cd to be limited. Hg showed positive correlations with Se in maternal RBCs but not in cord RBCs, and the Se/Hg molar ratio was lower in the latter, suggesting that the protective effects of Se against MeHg are less expected in fetuses than in mothers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jan


  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Lead
  • Methylmercury
  • Mother
  • Placental transfer
  • Red blood cells
  • Selenium
  • Umbilical cord blood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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