Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 2004, 82 (2), 161-166

Effect of U and (137)Cs chronic contamination on dopamine and serotonin metabolism in the central nervous system of the rat

Houpert, P., Lestaevel, P., Amourette, C., Dhieux, B., Bussy, C. and Paquet, F.

Following the Chernobyl accident, the most significant problem for the population of the former Soviet Union for the next 50-70 years will be chronic internal contamination by radionuclides. One of the few experiments carried out in this field reported that neurotransmitter metabolism in the central nervous system of the rat was disturbed after feeding with oats contaminated by 137Cs for 1 month. The present study assessed the effect of chronic contamination by depleted U or 137Cs on the metabolism of two neurotransmitters in cerebral areas of rats. Dopamine and serotonin were chosen because their metabolism has been shown to be disturbed after external irradiation, even at moderate doses. Dopamine, serotonin, and some of their catabolites were measured by high-pressure liquid chromatography coupled with an electrochemical detector in five cerebral structures of rats contaminated over a 1-month period by drinking water (40 mg U·L–1 or 6500 Bq 137Cs·L–1). In the striatum, hippocampus, cerebral cortex, thalamus, and cerebellum, the dopamine, serotonin, and catabolite levels were not significantly different between the control rats and rats contaminated by U or 137Cs. These results are not in accordance with those previously described.