Neurotoxicology, 2005, 26 (6), 1015-1020

Enriched but not depleted uranium affects central nervous system in long-term exposed rat

Pascale Houpert, Philippe Lestaevel, Cyrill Bussy, François Paquet and Patrick Gourmelon

Uranium is well known to induce chemical toxicity in kidneys, but several other target organs, such as central nervous system, could be also affected. Thus in the present study, the effects on sleep–wake cycle and behavior were studied after chronic oral exposure to enriched or depleted uranium. Rats exposed to 4% enriched uranium for 1.5 months through drinking water, accumulated twice as much uranium in some key areas such as the hippocampus, hypothalamus and adrenals than did control rats. This accumulation was correlated with an increase of about 38% of the amount of paradoxical sleep, a reduction of their spatial working memory capacities and an increase in their anxiety. Exposure to depleted uranium for 1.5 months did not induce these effects, suggesting that the radiological activity induces the primary events of these effects of uranium.