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Chronic Low Dose Neutron Exposure Results in Altered Neurotransmission Properties of the Hippocampus-Prefrontal Cortex Axis in Both Mice and Rats.

  • Author(s): Krishnan, Balaji;
  • Natarajan, Chandramouli;
  • Bourne, Krystyn Z;
  • Alikhani, Leila;
  • Wang, Juan;
  • Sowa, Allison;
  • Groen, Katherine;
  • Perry, Bayley;
  • Dickstein, Dara L;
  • Baulch, Janet E;
  • Limoli, Charles L;
  • Britten, Richard A
  • et al.

The proposed deep space exploration to the moon and later to Mars will result in astronauts receiving significant chronic exposures to space radiation (SR). SR exposure results in multiple neurocognitive impairments. Recently, our cross-species (mouse/rat) studies reported impaired associative memory formation in both species following a chronic 6-month low dose exposure to a mixed field of neutrons (1 mGy/day for a total dose pf 18 cGy). In the present study, we report neutron exposure induced synaptic plasticity in the medial prefrontal cortex, accompanied by microglial activation and significant synaptic loss in the hippocampus. In a parallel study, neutron exposure was also found to alter fluorescence assisted single synaptosome LTP (FASS-LTP) in the hippocampus of rats, that may be related to a reduced ability to insert AMPAR into the post-synaptic membrane, which may arise from increased phosphorylation of the serine 845 residue of the GluA1 subunit. Thus, we demonstrate for the first time, that low dose chronic neutron irradiation impacts homeostatic synaptic plasticity in the hippocampal-cortical circuit in two rodent species, and that the ability to successfully encode associative recognition memory is a dynamic, multicircuit process, possibly involving compensatory changes in AMPAR density on the synaptic surface.

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