Preliminary Morphological and Immunohistochemical Changes in Rat Hippocampus Following Postnatal Exposure to Sodium Arsenite

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Apoptosis, arsenic, dentate gyrus, granule cells, hippocampus, morphometry, pyramidal cells


The effects of arsenic exposure during rapid brain growth period (RBGP) (postnatal period 4-11) on pyramidal neurons of cornu ammonis (specifically CA1 and CA3 regions) and granule cells of dentate gyrus (DG) of rat hippocampus were studied. Wistar rat pups, subdivided into the control (group I) and the experimental groups (group II, III, and IV), received distilled water and sodium arsenite (aqueous solution of 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 mg/kg body weight, respectively) by intraperitoneal (i.p.) route. On postnatal day (PND) 12, the animals were sacrificed and brain tissue obtained. Paraffin sections (8 μm thick) stained with Cresyl Violet (CV) were observed for morphological and morphometric parameters. Arsenic induced programmed cell death (apoptosis) was studied using Terminal deoxyribonucleotidyl transferase mediated dUTP biotin Nick End Labeling (TUNEL) technique on the paraffin sections. Microscopy revealed decreased number and isolation of pyramidal neurons in superficial layers, misalignments of pyramidal cells in stratum pyramidale (SP) of CA1 and CA3 in experimental group III and IV, and presence of polymorphic cells in subgranular zone of ectal limb of dentate gyrus (suggestive of arsenic induced proliferation and migration of granule cells in the dentate gyrus). Morphometric assessments quantified and confirmed the microscopic findings. The mean nuclear area of pyramidal cells was increased and cell density was decreased in the CA1, CA3, and DG of experimental groups in comparison to the control group. Increase in the TUNEL positive cells in DG was observed in the experimental group IV, suggestive of increased apoptosis. These observations confirm vulnerability of pyramidal (CA1, CA3) and granule cells (DG) of hippocampus during RBGP.


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Kaler, S., Dhar, P., Bhattacharya, A., & Mehra, R. D. (2018). Preliminary Morphological and Immunohistochemical Changes in Rat Hippocampus Following Postnatal Exposure to Sodium Arsenite. Toxicology International, 20(2), 160–169. Retrieved from



Original Research
Received 2018-08-09
Accepted 2018-08-09
Published 2018-08-09



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