The present investigation was carried out to study the effects of in utero exposure to low-level gamma radiation (0.25, 0.35, or 0.50 Gy) on the postnatal neurophysiology and neurochemistry of the mouse. Pregnant Swiss albino mice were irradiated on days 11.5, 12.5, 14.5, or 17.5 post coitus (PC) and allowed to deliver. Locomotor and exploratory activities, learning and memory functions, and emotional activities were tested at 3 months of age using behavior tests. A representative group of animals was killed and hippocampal biogenic amines, noradrenaline, dopamine, serotonin (5-HT), and 5-HT's metabolite 5-hydroxy indoleactetic acid (5-HIAA), were measured. Exposure to 0.25 Gy at any of the gestation days did not produce any significant impairment in brain functions. However, an increase in gamma irradiation to 0.50 Gy on all the gestation days produced significant impairment in locomotor (open-field test) and anxiolytic (light and dark area test) activities, learning (hole board test), memory functions (active avoidance test), and emotional activity (rearings). The late fetal period is relatively resistant to radiation-induced impairment of brain functions. Both of the organogenesis gestation days showed a higher sensitivity than the fetal gestation days studied. Even a lower dose of 0.35 Gy when exposed on the late organogenesis days 11.5 and 12.5 PC, produced significant reduction in locomotor and exploratory activities. Day 11.5 PC showed a higher sensitivity than the other PC days studied. Biogenic amines did not show significant change after any of the exposures on any of the gestation days. The results suggest a threshold between 0.25 to 0.35 Gy for postnatal neurobehavior changes. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience