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Br J Radiol. 1999 Dec;72(864):1196-201.

An experimental study of radiation-induced cognitive dysfunction in an adult rat model.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Niigata University, Japan.


The objectives of this study were to establish an adult rat model for the late onset of radiation-induced cognitive dysfunction and to compare behavioural dysfunction with histopathological changes. While under anaesthesia, 30 rats (experimental group) were irradiated with a total dose of 40 Gy, given as eight fractions in 24 days. Another 30 rats (control group) underwent sham irradiation. The cognitive functions of all rats were evaluated at 6, 9 and 12 months after irradiation using the Morris water maze and passive avoidance tasks. Histopathological examination of these rats was carried out after the evaluation of cognitive functions was complete. At 6 and 9 months after irradiation there were no significant differences between the control and irradiated groups in passive avoidance and water maze tests. At 12 months after irradiation, the passive avoidance task revealed a deterioration of cognitive function in the experimental group. Histopathological observations revealed no abnormal findings in the irradiated brains at the light microscope level. Late onset cognitive dysfunction following cranial irradiation was observed in an adult rat model. Pathological investigations showed no abnormalities in the irradiated brains. These findings indicate that radiation-induced cognitive dysfunction can precede morphological changes in the brain or that they arise without them. The present model seems useful for elucidating the pathogenesis of radiation-induced cognitive dysfunction and for developing methods for therapy and prophylaxis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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