Prenatal exposure to gamma/neutron irradiation: Sensorimotor alterations and paradoxical effects on learning

D. Di Cicco, S. Antal, M. Ammassari-Teule

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of prenatal exposure on gamma/neutron radiations (0.5 Gy at about the 18th day of fetal life) were studied in a hybrid strain of mice (DBA/Cne males x C57BL/Cne females). During ontogeny, measurements of sensorimotor reflexes revealed in prenatally irradiated mice 1) a delay in sensorial development, 2) deficits in tests involving body motor control, and 3) a reduction of both motility and locomotor activity scores. In adulthood, the behaviour of prenatally irradiated and control mice was examined in the open field test and in reactivity to novelty. Moreover, their learning performance was compared in several situations. The results show that, in the open field test, only rearings were more frequent in irradiated mice. In the presence of a novel object, significant sex x treatment interactions were observed since ambulation and leaning against the novel object increased in irradiated females but decreased in irradiated males. Finally, when submitted to different learning tasks, irradiated mice were impaired in the radial maze, but paradoxically exhibited higher avoidance scores than control mice, possibly because of their low pain thresholds. Taken together, these observations indicate that late prenatal gamma/neutron irradiation induces long lasting alterations at the sensorimotor level which, in turn, can influence learning abilities of adult mice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Embryology
  • Toxicology


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