Journal Article

Brain Hemispheric Differences in the Neurochemical Effects of Lead, Prenatal Stress, and the Combination and Their Amelioration by Behavioral Experience

Deborah A. Cory-Slechta, Douglas Weston, Sue Liu and Joshua L. Allen

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 132, issue 2, pages 419-430
Published in print April 2013 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online January 2013 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/toxsci/kft015
Brain Hemispheric Differences in the Neurochemical Effects of Lead, Prenatal Stress, and the Combination and Their Amelioration by Behavioral Experience

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Brain lateralization, critical to mediation of cognitive functions and to “multitasking,” is disrupted in conditions such as attention deficit disorder and schizophrenia. Both low-level lead (Pb) exposure and prenatal stress (PS) have been associated with mesocorticolimbic system–mediated executive-function cognitive and attention deficits. Mesocorticolimbic systems demonstrate significant laterality. Thus, altered brain lateralization could play a role in this behavioral toxicity. This study examined laterality of mesocorticolimbic monoamines (frontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, striatum, midbrain) and amino acids (frontal cortex) in male and female rats subjected to lifetime Pb exposure (0 or 50 ppm in drinking water), PS (restraint stress on gestational days 16–17), or the combination with and without repeated learning behavioral experience. Control males exhibited prominent laterality, particularly in midbrain and also in frontal cortex and striatum; females exhibited less laterality, and this was primarily striatal. Lateralized Pb ± PS induced neurotransmitter changes were assessed only in males because of limited sample sizes of Pb + PS females. In males, Pb ± PS changes occurred in left hemisphere of frontal cortex and right hemisphere of midbrain. Behavioral experience modified the laterality of Pb ± PS–induced neurotransmitter changes in a region-dependent manner. Notably, behavioral experience eliminated Pb ± PS neurotransmitter changes in males. These findings underscore the critical need to evaluate both sexes and brain hemispheres for the mechanistic understanding of sex-dependent differences in neuro- and behavioral toxicity. Furthermore, assessment of central nervous system mechanisms in the absence of behavioral experience, shown here for males, may constitute less relevant models of human health effects.

Keywords: lead; prenatal stress; laterality; dopamine; glutamate; sex.

Journal Article.  9671 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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