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Toxicol Lett. 2012 Jul 20;212(2):190-7. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2012.05.015. Epub 2012 May 22.

Infrasonic noise induces axonal degeneration of cultured neurons via a Ca²⁺ influx pathway.

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Department of Neurology, Xijing Hospital, the Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an 710032, China.


Infrasound is a kind of environmental noise. It can evoke biological resonance in organismic tissues including the central nervous system (CNS), causing displacement and distortion of cellular architectures. Several studies have revealed that certain intensity infrasound can impair normal functions of the brain, but the underlying mechanisms still remain largely unknown. Growing evidence has demonstrated that axonal degeneration is responsible for a variety of CNS dysfunctions. To explore whether neuronal axons are affected under infrasonic insults, we exposed cultured hippocampal neurons to infrasound with a frequency of 16 Hz and a pressure level of 130 dB for 1h, and examined the morphological and molecular changes of neuronal axons by immunocytochemistry and Western blotting, respectively. Our results showed that infrasound exposure significantly resulted in axonal degeneration of cultured hippocampal neurons, which was relatively independent of neuronal cell death. This infrasound-induced axonal degeneration can be significantly blocked by Ca²⁺ chelator EGTA and Rho kinase inhibitor Fasudil, but not by proteasome inhibitor MG132. Moreover, calcium imaging and RhoA activation assays revealed a great enhancement of Ca²⁺ influx within axons and RhoA activation after infrasound exposure, respectively. Depletion of Ca²⁺ by EGTA markedly inhibited this Ca²⁺ influx and attenuated RhoA activation as well. Thus, our findings revealed that axonal degeneration may be one of the important mechanisms underlying infrasound-induced CNS impairment, and Ca²⁺ influx pathway is likely implicated in the process.

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