• Copper;
  • Mercury;
  • Essential Metal;
  • Newborn Rats;
  • Motor Activity;
  • Neurotoxicity


This study investigated the benefits of Cu preexposition on Hg effects on behavioral tests, acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity and Hg, and essential metal contents in the cerebrum and cerebellum of neonate rats. Wistar rats received (subcutaneous) saline or CuCl2·2H2O (6.9 mg/kg/day) when they were 3 to 7 days old and saline or HgCl2 (5.0 mg/kg/day) when they were 8 to 12 days old. Mercury exposure reduced the performance of rats in the negative geotaxis (3–13 days) and beaker test (17–20 days), inhibited cerebellum AChE activity (13 days), increased cerebrum and cerebellum Hg (13 days), cerebrum Cu (13 days), and cerebrum and cerebellum Zn levels (33 days). The performance of rats in the tail immersion and rotarod tests as well as Fe and Mg levels were not altered by treatments. Copper prevented all alterations induced by mercury. These results are important to open a new perspective of prevention and/or therapy for mercury exposure.