Human bladder stones, surgically removed from a 4 years old boy, were studied by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and by electron microprobe analyses (EPMA). XRD data show that the bladder stones are mainly composed of struvite with minor apatite. Tiny particles, <10 μm in size, composed of mercury (Hg) and selenium (Se) were found using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and quantitative analysis by wave-length dispersive system (WDS). On the basis of their composition, the particles consist of tiemannite, a rare mineral with the ideal formula HgSe. The young patient was not exposed to relevant mercury contamination and has no teeth fillings of amalgam. Although this observation is not conclusive, we suggest that Hg was introduced as methylmercury by food. The discovered tiemannite can be classified as endogenous mineral, i.e., directly precipitated from the same fluids that formed the host bladder stones. This assumption is supported by the fact that tiemannite and struvite can crystallize at the same temperature and pH values. As proposed for the formation of tiemannite previously reported in the liver of cetaceans, we suggest that the tiemannite in the human body represents a probable product of demethylation of Hg. In this contribution, we suggest that Hg and Se were initially collected by urine in the human body and finally precipitated to form tiemannite under appropriate chemical-physical conditions together with the formation of the host bladder stone. This observation suggests that the precipitation and accumulation of metals, including Hg and Se, in the human body can be considered a physiological response to eliminate part of these trace elements, thus enabling detoxification.Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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