Effects of Protons and HZE Particles on Glutamate Transport in Astrocytes, Neurons and Mixed Cultures

Radiat Res. 2010 Dec;174(6):669-78. doi: 10.1667/RR2106.1. Epub 2010 Sep 28.


Radiation-induced neurotoxicity is a well-characterized phenomenon. However, the underlying mechanism of this toxicity is poorly understood. In the central nervous system (CNS), excitotoxic mechanisms are implicated in many neurodegenerative disease processes. Pivotal to the excitotoxic pathway is dysfunction of glutamate signaling. We reported previously that exposure to low-LET γ radiation results in altered glutamate transport in neurons and astrocytes. In the present study, we sought to investigate the effects of various particle radiations of differing LET on glutamate transport as a measure of the neurochemical vulnerability of the CNS. NTera2-derived neurons and astrocytes isolated as pure and mixed cultures were exposed to doses of 10 cGy, 50 cGy or 2 Gy of 250 MeV protons, 290 MeV/nucleon carbon ions, or 1000 MeV/nucleon iron ions. Transporter function was assessed at 3 h, 2 days and 7days after exposure. Functional assessment of glutamate transport revealed that neurons and astrocytes respond in a reciprocal manner after exposure to particle radiation. Uptake activity in neurons increased after particle irradiation. This effect was evident as late as our last time (7 days) after exposure (P < 0.05). In astrocytes, transporter activity decreased after exposure. The decrease in uptake observed in astrocytes was evident 7 days after exposure to carbon and iron ions. Uptake in mixed cultures after exposure to all three forms of radiation revealed a muted interactive response suggestive of the individual responses of each cellular phenotype acting in opposition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Astrocytes / radiation effects*
  • Biological Transport / radiation effects
  • Carbon
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cosmic Radiation*
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 1 / genetics
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 2 / genetics
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Linear Energy Transfer
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / radiation effects*
  • Paraquat / pharmacology
  • Protons*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 1
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 2
  • Protons
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Carbon
  • Paraquat