NeuroToxicology, 2007, 28(1), 108-113

Parental exposure to enriched uranium induced delayed hyperactivity in rat offspring

Pascale Houpert, Sandrine Frelon, Philippe Lestaevel, Cyrill Bussy, Patrick Gourmelon and Francois Paquet

Several recent reports suggest that chronic exposure to uranium could induce behavioural effects in adult rats. As the immature brains are known to be more susceptible to toxic effects, rats were observed in an open field, in a Y-maze and in an elevated plus-maze at 2, 5 and 9 months old after exposure to enriched uranium (40 mg l−1) during gestation and lactation. The rats exposed to enriched uranium showed a significant decrease in alternation in the Y-maze at 2 months old which reflects a slight decrease in the spatial working memory capacities as previously described in adult rats. However, the main result was a delayed hyperactivity in the rats exposed to enriched uranium, which appeared to a slight extent at 5 months old and was more evident at 9 months old. Although this effect could not be directly explained by some uranium accumulation in the target organs, this experiment showed that early exposure to enriched uranium can induce a very late effect on the rat behaviour and that such studies should not be restricted to the effects observed on young rats.