Delayed Effects of Brain Irradiation - Part 1: Adrenocortical Axis Dysfunction and Hippocampal Damage in an Adult Rat Model

Department of Neurology, The Agnes Ginges Center for Human Neurogenetics, Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel.
NeuroImmunoModulation (Impact Factor: 1.88). 11/2012; 20(1):57-64. DOI: 10.1159/000342522
Source: PubMed


Background: Brain irradiation (BI) in humans may cause behavioral changes, cognitive impairment and neuroendocrine dysfunction. The effect of BI on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is not fully understood. Objectives: To evaluate the effect of BI on HPA axis responses under basal and stressful conditions as well as following pretreatment with dexamethasone (Dex). Methods: Adult male rats were exposed to whole BI. HPA axis responses were examined at 2, 4, 9 and 20 weeks after BI. Histological evaluations of the irradiated rats and matched controls were conducted at 4 and 20 weeks after BI. Results: In contrast to the control group, the basal and stress-induced corticosterone levels were enhanced at 9 and 20 weeks after BI and the inhibitory effect of Dex was reduced. BI also caused hyposuppression of the adrenocortical response to stress. Histological assessment of the irradiated brains revealed hippocampal atrophy at 20 weeks after BI. The neuronal counts were lower only in the CA1 region of the irradiated brains. BI caused a decrease in the binding capacity of Dex to the hippocampal cytosolic fraction. Conclusions: Enhanced stress-induced HPA axis responses and the reduced effect of Dex suggest that BI has delayed effects on HPA axis responses as manifested by impairment of the negative feedback exerted by glucocorticoids (GCs). The mechanisms underlying these effects of BI are unknown. It is possible that the marked BI-induced damage in the hippocampus, which plays an important role in the regulation of the feedback effect of GCs, may cause abnormal HPA axis responses following BI.

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    ABSTRACT: In case of high-dose radiation exposure, mechanisms controlling late visceral organ damage are still not completely understood and may involve the central nervous system. To investigate the influence of cranial/brain irradiation on late visceral organ damage in case of high-dose exposure, Wistar rats were irradiated at 12 Gy, with either the head and fore limbs or the two hind limbs protected behind a lead wall (head- and hind limbs-protected respectively), which allows long-term survival thanks to bone marrow protection. Although hind limbs- and head-protected irradiated rats exhibited similar hematopoietic and spleen reconstitution, a late body weight loss was observed in hind limbs-protected rats only. Histological analysis performed at this time revealed that late damages to liver, kidney and ileum were attenuated in rats with head exposed when compared to animals whose head was protected. Plasma measurements of inflammation biomarkers (haptoglobin and the chemokine CXCL1) suggest that the attenuated organ damage in hind limbs-protected rats may be in part related to reduced acute and chronic inflammation. Altogether our results demonstrate the influence of cranial/brain exposure in the onset of organ damage.
    PLoS ONE 04/2015; 10(4):e0122900. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0122900 · 3.23 Impact Factor

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