No changes in lymphocyte muscarinic receptors and platelet monoamine oxidase-B examined as surrogate central nervous system biomarkers in a Faroese children cohort prenatally exposed to methylmercury and polychlorinated biphenyls

Teresa Coccini, Luigi Manzo, Frodi Debes, Ulrike Steuerwald, Pl Weihe, Philippe Grandjean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Experimental evidence suggests that monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) and muscarinic cholinergic receptors (mAChRs) are involved in the pathogenesis of neurotoxicity caused by methylmercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Blood samples from 7-year-old exposed children were analyzed for platelet MAO-B and lymphocyte mAChRs as potential markers of exposure to these neurotoxicants. The blood neurotoxicity biomarkers were compared with prenatal and current exposures and with neuropsychological test results. Both biomarkers showed homogeneous distributions within this cohort (mAChR, range 0.0436.78fmol/million cells; MAO-B, 0.9514.95nmol mg-1 protein h-1). No correlation was found between the two biomarkers and either blood neurotoxicant concentrations or clinical findings. MAO-B and mAChR sensitivity may not be sufficiently high to assess early, subclinical responses to low/moderate methylmercury and/or PCB exposure, whereas these markers are significantly altered in sustained exposure scenarios, as shown by clinical studies in drug addicts or patients treated with psychopharmacological agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-76
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009



  • Brain development
  • Cholinergic receptors
  • MAO-B
  • MeHg
  • Neurochemical markers
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Medicine(all)

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