The blood–cerebrospinal fluid barrier – first evidence for an active transport of organic mercury compounds out of the brain
Exposure to organic mercury compounds promotes primarily neurological effects. Although methylmercury is recognized as a potent neurotoxicant, its transfer into the central nervous system (CNS) is not fully evaluated. While methylmercury and thiomersal pass the blood–brain barrier, limited data are available regarding the second brain regulating interface, the blood–cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) barrier. This novel study was designed to investigate the effects of organic as well as inorganic mercury compounds on, and their transfer across, a porcine in vitro model of the blood–CSF barrier for the first time. The barrier system is significantly more sensitive towards organic Hg compounds as compared to inorganic compounds regarding the endpoints cytotoxicity and barrier integrity. Whereas there are low transfer rates from the blood side to the CSF side, our results strongly indicate an active transfer of the organic mercury compounds out of the CSF. These results are the first to demonstrate an efflux of organic mercury compounds regarding the CNS and provide a completely new approach in the understanding of mercury compounds specific transport.