Effect of mercury on β-galactosidase activity : possible relationship to lactose intolerance Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/j3860c052

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  • The ability of mercury to inhibit β - galactosidase activity from cell-free extracts of Streptococcus lactis, Escherichia colt and intestinal homogenates of hogs, female rats, and humans was studied. Mercuric acetate was added in vitro to all sources of β - galactosidase except for the rats, which were placed on a diet of 6ppm or 300ppm mercuric chloride. The rat study also included the determination of the mercury content of blood, liver, kidney and intestinal fractions and food consumption and weight gain patterns. The β - galactosidase from hog mucosa and E. coli had to be partially purified before the assay would detect the near 50% inhibition resulting from 1.0ppm and 0.16pprn mercuric acetate, respectively. Intestinal homogenates from both rats and humans contained a low-molecular weight substance that interferred with the assay results. Once this effect was overcome by modifying the reagents or dialysis of the samples, approximately 50% inhibition of β - galactosidase was observed from rat and human mucosa by less than 0.005 ppm mercuric chloride (determined by atomic absorption spectrometry) and 33ppm mercuric acetate, respectively. Rats on a mercuric chloride diet showed a cyclic inhibition response pattern of β - galactosidase activity. In addition, rats on a 6ppm mercuric chloride diet showed no appreciable difference in food consumption or weight gain in comparison to the controls, whereas the rats on a 300ppm mercuric chloride diet showed approximately a 20% decline in both food consumption and weight gain. The cyclic phenomenon and partial protective effect against mercuric chloride poisoning observed was considered to be the result of hormonal influence. The data suggest that the enzyme assay techniques employed are sufficiently sensitive for use in establishing a clinical test to diagnose mercurialism at a very early stage, if samples are partially purified.
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