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Review
. May-Jun 1990;12(3):249-60.
doi: 10.1016/0892-0362(90)90096-u.

Ionizing Radiation and the Developing Brain

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Review

Ionizing Radiation and the Developing Brain

W J Schull et al. Neurotoxicol Teratol. .

Abstract

The unique susceptibility of the central nervous system to radiation exposure is attributable to its extensive period of development, the vulnerability of its neuronal cells, the migratory activity of many of its cells, its inability to replace mature neurons, and the complexity of the system itself. Radiation effects may be due to glial or neuronal cell death, interruption of migratory activity, impaired capacity to establish correct connections among cells, and/or alterations in dendritic development. These structural changes are often manifested as behavioral alterations later in life. Sensitivity to radiation (dose-response) is markedly similar among all mammalian species when developmental periods are compared. This review compares and contrasts human and animal behavioral data. Neonatal and postnatal adult behavioral tests have been shown to be sensitive, noninvasive measures of prenatal radiation exposure, although currently their predictive validity for humans is uncertain. Additional research is needed to determine the presence and significance of postnatal morphologic and functional alterations due to prenatal exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation.

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