Effects of early postnatal exposure to fine particulate matter on emotional and cognitive development and structural synaptic plasticity in immature and mature rats.
Brain Behav. 2019 Dec ;9(12):e01453. Epub 2019 Nov 11. PMID: 31709780
INTRODUCTION: Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is closely associated with many neurological disorders including neurodegenerative disease, stroke, and brain tumors. However, the toxic effects of PM2.5 on neurodevelopment remain unclear. In this study, we aimed to determine the neurotoxic effects of early postnatal exposure to PM2.5 in immature and mature rats.
METHODS: We exposed neonatal rats to PM2.5 (2 or 10 mg/kg body weight) through intranasal instillation from postnatal day (PND) 3-15, once a day. Emotional and cognitive development were evaluated using the elevated plus maze, forced swimming, and Morris water maze tests. Hippocampal tissue was collected and subjected to transmission electron microscopy observation and western blot analysis.
RESULTS: Rats had lower body weight after exposure to high dose of PM2.5. The behavioral test results indicated that high-dose PM2.5 exposure led to increased anxiety-like symptoms in immature and mature rats, apparent depressive-like behaviors in mature rats, and impaired spatial learning and memory abilities in immature rats, and low-dose PM2.5 exposure increased anxiety-like behaviors in immature rats. Further, high-dose PM2.5 exposure contributed to fewer synapses, thinner postsynaptic density, and shorter active zone in immature and mature rats, and also decreased expressions of synaptophysin (SYP), growth associated protein-43 (GAP43), and postsynaptic density-95 (PSD95) in immature rats, SYP and PSD95 in mature rats. Moreover, low-dose PM2.5 exposure diminished the expression of PSD95 in immature rats. In addition, high-dose PM2.5 exposure reduced brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression and cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation in both immature and mature rats, and low-dose PM2.5 exposure lessened BDNF expression and CREB phosphorylation in immature rats.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that PM2.5 impairs emotional and cognitive development by disrupting structural synaptic plasticity, possibly via the CREB/BDNF signaling pathway.