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Toxicology. 2007 Jul 1;236(1-2):82-91. Epub 2007 Apr 6.

Pro-oxidant effects in the brain of rats concurrently exposed to uranium and stress.

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Laboratory of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Rovira i Virgili University, San Lorenzo 21, 43201 Reus, Spain.


Metal toxicity may be associated with increased rates of reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation within the central nervous system (CNS). Although the kidney is the main target organ for uranium (U) toxicity, this metal can also accumulate in brain. In this study, we investigated the modifications on endogenous antioxidant capacity and oxidative damage in several areas of the brain of U-exposed rats. Eight groups of adult male rats received uranyl acetate dihydrate (UAD) in the drinking water at 0, 10, 20, and 40 mg/kg/day for 3 months. Animals in four groups were concurrently subjected to restraint stress during 2h/day throughout the study. At the end of the experimental period, cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum were removed and processed to examine the following stress markers: reduced glutathione (GSH), oxidized glutathione (GSSG), glutathione reductase (GR), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), as well as U concentrations. The results show that U significantly accumulated in hippocampus, cerebellum and cortex after 3 months of exposure. Moreover, UAD exposure promoted oxidative stress in these cerebral tissues. In cortex and cerebellum, TBARS levels were positively correlated with the U content, while in cerebellum GSSG and GSH levels were positively and negatively correlated, respectively, with U concentrations. In hippocampus, CAT and SOD activities were positively correlated with U concentration. The present results suggest that chronic oral exposure to UAD can cause progressive perturbations on physiological brain levels of oxidative stress markers. Although at the current UAD doses restraint scarcely showed additional adverse effects, its potential influence should not be underrated.

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