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Adv Space Res. 2004;33(8):1347-51.

Effects of heavy ions on visual function and electrophysiology of rodents: the ALTEA-MICE project.

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  • 1INFN, Roma, Italy.


ALTEA-MICE will supplement the ALTEA project on astronauts and provide information on the functional visual impairment possibly induced by heavy ions during prolonged operations in microgravity. Goals of ALTEA-MICE are: (1) to investigate the effects of heavy ions on the visual system of normal and mutant mice with retinal defects; (2) to define reliable experimental conditions for space research; and (3) to develop animal models to study the physiological consequences of space travels on humans. Remotely controlled mouse setup, applied electrophysiological recording methods, remote particle monitoring, and experimental procedures were developed and tested. The project has proved feasible under laboratory-controlled conditions comparable in important aspects to those of astronauts' exposure to particle in space. Experiments are performed at the Brookhaven National Laboratories [BNL] (Upton, NY, USA) and the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung mbH [GSI]/Biophysik (Darmstadt, FRG) to identify possible electrophysiological changes and/or activation of protective mechanisms in response to pulsed radiation. Offline data analyses are in progress and observations are still anecdotal. Electrophysiological changes after pulsed radiation are within the limits of spontaneous variability under anesthesia, with only indirect evidence of possible retinal/cortical responses. Immunostaining showed changes (e.g. increased expression of FGF2 protein in the outer nuclear layer) suggesting a retinal stress reaction to high-energy particles of potential relevance in space.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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