Effect of diagnostic ultrasound during the fetal period on learning and memory in mice.
Ann Anat. 2008;190(1):37-45. Epub 2007 Oct 22. PMID: 18342141
Anatomy and Cell Biology Unit, Department of Preclinical Sciences, Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of The West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies. firstname.lastname@example.org
BACKGROUND: An experiment was conducted to find out whether in utero exposure to diagnostic ultrasound leads to changes in postnatal behavior in adult mice.
METHODS: A total of 15 pregnant Swiss albino mice were exposed to diagnostic levels of ultrasound (3.5 MHz, 65 mW/cm(2), intensity((spatial peak-temporal peak)) (I(SPTP))=1 mW/cm(2), intensity((spatial average-temporal average)) (I(SATA))=240 mW/cm(2)) for 30 min on day 14 or 16 of gestation. All exposed as well as control animals were left to complete gestation and parturition. Their offspring were used in our further studies. They were monitored during early postnatal life for standard developmental markers (such as pinna detachment, eye opening and fur development) and postnatal mortality was recorded up to 6 weeks of age. The litters were subjected to behavioral tests for learning and memory at 4 months of age. Representative animals from each group were sacrificed and the hippocampal region of the brain was assayed for biogenic amines, noradrenaline, dopamine, serotonin (5-HT) and 5-HT's metabolite, 5-hydroxy indoleacetic acid (5-HIAA), in order to determine whether ultrasound exposure produced any biochemical changes in the hippocampal region of the brain. Coronal sections from the dorsal hippocampus from the representative animals from each group were processed for staining and the number of neurons was counted.
RESULTS: Neither the standard developmental markers (such as pinna detachment, eye opening and fur development) nor the postnatal mortality was affected by ultrasound exposure. However, there was a significant impairment in learning (hole board test) and memory functions (shuttle box test) in both the exposure groups. Significant reductions in the biogenic amines and the decrease in the neuronal density were found only in day 14th pc ultrasound-exposed group compared with the control animals. The 16th day exposure group is relatively resistant to ultrasound-induced impairment of brain functions.
CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that the early fetal brain is highly susceptible to induction of neurobehavioral changes by ultrasound exposure.