Effects of lipopolysaccharide on 56Fe-particle radiation-induced impairment of synaptic plasticity in the mouse hippocampus

Radiat Res. 2007 Oct;168(4):462-70. doi: 10.1667/RR1038.1.


Space radiation, including high-mass, high-Z, high-energy particles (HZE; e.g. (56)Fe), represents a significant health risk for astronauts, and the central nervous system (CNS) may be a vulnerable target. HZE-particle radiation may directly affect neuronal function, or during immunological challenge, it may alter immune system-to-CNS communication. To test these hypotheses, we exposed mice to accelerated iron particles ((56)Fe; 600 MeV/nucleon; 1, 2, 4 Gy; brain only) and 1 month later prepared hippocampal slices to measure the effects of radiation on neurotransmission and synaptic plasticity in CA1 neurons. In a model of immune system-to-CNS communication, these electrophysiological parameters were measured in irradiated mice additionally challenged with the peripheral immunological stressor lipopolysaccharide (LPS) injected intraperitoneally 4 h before the slice preparation. Exposure to (56)Fe particles alone increased dendritic excitability and inhibited plasticity. In control mice (0 Gy), LPS treatment also inhibited synaptic plasticity. Paradoxically, in mice exposed to 2 Gy, the LPS treatment restored synaptic plasticity to levels similar to those found in controls (0 Gy, no LPS). Our results indicate that HZE-particle radiation alters normal electrophysiological properties of the CNS and the hippocampal response to LPS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cosmic Radiation*
  • Hippocampus / radiation effects*
  • Iron / pharmacology
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Long-Term Potentiation / radiation effects
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neuronal Plasticity / radiation effects*
  • Synapses / radiation effects*


  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Iron