Exposure to N-Ethyl-N-Nitrosourea in adult mice alters structural and functional integrity of neurogenic sites
Background: Previous studies have shown that prenatal exposure to the mutagen N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU), a N-nitroso compound (NOC) found in the environment, disrupts developmental neurogenesis and alters memory formation. Previously, we showed that postnatal ENU treatment induced lasting deficits in proliferation of neural progenitors in the subventricular zone (SVZ), the main neurogenic region in the adult mouse brain. The present study is aimed to examine, in mice exposed to ENU, both the structural features of adult neurogenic sites, incorporating the dentate gyrus (DG), and the behavioral performance in tasks sensitive to manipulations of adult neurogenesis.
Methodology/Principal Findings: 2-month old mice received 5 doses of ENU and were sacrificed 45 days after treatment. Then, an ultrastructural analysis of the SVZ and DG was performed to determine cellular composition in these regions, confirming a significant alteration. After bromodeoxyuridine injections, an S-phase exogenous marker, the immunohistochemical analysis revealed a deficit in proliferation and a decreased recruitment of newly generated cells in neurogenic areas of ENU-treated animals. Behavioral effects were also detected after ENU-exposure, observing impairment in odor discrimination task (habituation-dishabituation test) and a deficit in spatial memory (Barnes maze performance), two functions primarily related to the SVZ and the DG regions, respectively.
Conclusions/Significance: The results demonstrate that postnatal exposure to ENU produces severe disruption of adult neurogenesis in the SVZ and DG, as well as strong behavioral impairments. These findings highlight the potential risk of environmental NOC-exposure for the development of neural and behavioral deficits.
Publication titlePloS one
Department/SchoolSchool of Psychological Sciences
PublisherPublic Library of Science
Place of publicationUnited States
Rights statementCopyright 2012 Capilla-Gonzalez et al. Licenced under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/