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Are in vitro tests legitimate in testing methylmercury's response to digestion?

Question asked by Phillip Mariscal on Nov 15, 2019

Hi

I am a student in my last semester of a science writing program. I am working on a news piece about how polyphenols might reduce methylmercury absorption. I based much of my piece on the work of a PhD at Canada's University of Laval, who studied the possibility that polyphenols in tea might reduce methylmercury absorption in the body. This researcher ran tests using an in vitro method (simulating digestion in test tubes). Specifically, she purchased fish, brought it to her lab, mashed it, added enzymes, regulated temperature, and modified acidity to imitate the stomach’s gastric phase. She then agitated the tubes, simulating contractions that break up food, extracted the nutrients, removed the remains, and saved the soluble residue to test it for methylmercury.

She found that when combining the fish with polyphenol-containing tea, the soluble residue demonstrated twenty-five percent reduction in methylmercury bioaccessibility (absorption). She believes the polyphenols chelated with the mercury and removed it from the body.

Is such a test legitimate in testing the chemical reactions and interactions in human digestion?

 

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