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British anti-Lewisite and organomercury poisoning


2,3-DIMERCAPTOPROPANOL (CH2(OH)CH(SH)CH2SH; BALH3) is generally used in the treatment of mercury poisoning to help remove mercury from the body1–3. It has been reported, however, that use of BALH3, together with, or shortly after injection into laboratory animals of inorganic mercury4–6, methylmercury7–8, or phenylmercury7–9 compounds results in a different initial distribution of mercury in the body than when the compounds are injected alone. For inorganic mercury, the results can be explained in terms of the timing and dosage of BALH3 (ref. 6). For both methyl and phenylmercury compounds with BALH3, the mercury content of the brain is greatly enhanced7–9. Although the initial rapid (24 h) distribution of mercury in the animals treated for methylmercury poisoning with BALH3 is similar to that achieved after 8 d in the absence of BALH3 (ref. 8), this distribution is undesirable in cases of chronic mercury poisoning where the critical organ is the brain, in which it is metabolised more slowly than in most organs10,11.

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CANTY, A., KISHIMOTO, R. British anti-Lewisite and organomercury poisoning. Nature 253, 123–125 (1975).

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