Morphologic alterations of the hippocampal mossy fiber pathway after postnatal lead exposure have been observed in rats. It is hypothesized that lead might perturb zinc pools found in this pathway. To test this hypothesis, rat pups were exposed to lead indirectly by administering 0.2% lead acetate to dams via the drinking water during lactation for 21 days and control litters were maintained on tap water. To evaluate whether or not the effects of postnatal lead exposure were selective for hippocampal zinc pools, the hippocampus was compared with the cerebellum. There were no significant differences between lead-treated and control rats in total zinc content in either the hippocampus or the cerebellum in rats at 30 and 90 days of age. Furthermore, no differences in the subcellular distribution of zinc were observed between control and lead-treated animals. Because the effects on zinc content may be more subtle, the amounts of cytosolic zinc-binding species, isolated using Ultrogel AcA 34 gel chromatography, were measured in control and lead-treated animals. A striking decrease was observed in the amount of zinc associated with one of the cytosolic zinc-binding species, a putative zinc-glutathione complex, shown in previous studies to be the major hippocampal zinc pool. This effect was observed only in the hippocampus of 30-day-old lead-treated rats. By 90 days of age, the effect was no longer present. These data suggest that lead preferentially affects a zinc pool found in the hippocampus and supports our hypothesis that postnatal lead exposure results in an alteration in hippocampal zinc.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience