Evaluation of passive avoidance learning and spatial memory in rats exposed to low levels of lead during specific periods of early brain development
Manipal University, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal, India (Department of Biochemistry)
Manipal University, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, India (Department of Pharmacology)
Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2015;28(3):533–544
Objectives: Widespread use of heavy metal lead (Pb) for various commercial purposes has resulted in the environmental contamination caused by this metal. The studies have shown a definite relationship between low level lead exposure during early brain development and deficit in children’s cognitive functions. This study investigated the passive avoidance learning and spatial learning in male rat pups exposed to lead through their mothers during specific periods of early brain development. Material and Methods: Experimental male rats were divided into 5 groups: i) the normal control group (NC) (N = 12) consisted of rat offspring born to mothers who were given normal drinking water throughout gestation and lactation, ii) the pre-gestation lead exposed group (PG) (N = 12) consisted of rat offspring, mothers of these rats had been exposed to 0.2% lead acetate in the drinking water for 1 month before conception, iii) the gestation lead exposed group (G) (N = 12) contained rat offspring born to mothers who had been exposed to 0.2% lead acetate in the drinking water throughout gestation, iv) the lactation lead exposed group (L) (N = 12) had rat offspring, mothers of these rats exposed to 0.2% lead acetate in the drinking water throughout lactation and v) the gestation and lactation lead exposed group (GL) (N = 12) contained rat offspring, mothers of these rats were exposed to 0.2% lead acetate throughout gestation and lactation. Results: The study found deficit in passive avoidance learning in the G, L and GL groups of rats. Impairment in spatial learning was found in the PG, G, L and GL groups of rats. Interestingly, the study found that gestation period only and lactation period only lead exposure was sufficient to cause deficit in learning and memory in rats. The extent of memory impairment in the L group of rats was comparable with the GL group of rats. Conclusions: So it can be said that postnatal period of brain development is more sensitive to neurotoxicity compared to prenatal exposure.
Laxminarayana K. Bairy
Kasturba Medical College, Manipal University, Madav nagar, Manipal-576104, Karnataka, India