Chen, CY (reprint author), Chinese Acad Sci, Key Lab Nucl Analyt Tech, Beijing 100039, Peoples R China.
Liver, as an important metabolic and detoxicological organ of human body, can be used as a good bioindicator for evaluating body burden of environmental pollutants. Its elemental contents and their chemical forms are closely related to the status of human health and disease. In this paper, the liver samples collected from normal subjects were separated to different subcellular fractions of nuclei, mitochondria, lysosome, microsome and cytosol by differential centrifugation. Then their concentrations of heavy metals of As, Pb, Cd, and Hg were determined by atomic absorption and atomic fluorescent spectroscopy. Our results show no significant difference with literature ones when comparing their gross concentrations. In the case of their subcellular distribution, the Hg concentrations are higher in mitochondrial, microsomal and cytosolic fractions; the Cd concentrations are higher in cytosolic and mitochondrial fractions, while As highest in nuclear fraction. The highest concentration of Pb is found in microsomal fraction with similarity to Fe. Mercury in liver is mainly in the form of inorganic, and methylmercury ranged from 9% to 50% with the average value of 20.9% +/- 13.3%. These results indicate that the cellular distribution and the accumulated target organelles are quite different among these heavy metals, which suggest their various pathways and toxic mechanism in vivo.