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Toxicol Pathol. 2011 Jan;39(1):73-84. doi: 10.1177/0192623310397557.

Recommended neuroanatomical sampling practices for comprehensive brain evaluation in nonclinical safety studies.

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NeuroScience Associates, Knoxville, TN 37934, USA.


Adequate tissue sampling is known to reduce the likelihood that the toxicity of novel biomolecules, chemicals, and drugs might go undetected. Each organ, and often specific structurally and functionally distinct regions within it, must be assessed to detect potential site-specific toxicity. Adequate sampling of the brain requires particular consideration because of the many major substructures and more than 600 subpopulations of generally irreplaceable cells with unique functions and vulnerabilities. All known neurotoxicants affect specific subpopulations (usually neurons) rather than damaging a certain percentage of cells throughout the brain; thus, all populations should be independently assessed for lesions. Historically, the affected neural cell subpopulation has not been predictable, but it is now clear that sampling selected populations (e.g., cerebral cortex, hippocampus, cerebellar folia) cannot forecast the health of other populations. This article reviews the neuroanatomical domains affected by several model neurotoxicants to illustrate the need for more comprehensive neurohistological evaluation during nonclinical development of novel compounds. The article also describes an easily executed, cost-effective method that uses a set number of evenly spaced coronal (cross) sections to accomplish this comprehensive brain assessment during nonclinical safety studies performed in rodents, dogs, and nonhuman primates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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