Intravenous injection of 450 mg/kg quinolinic acid (Quin), an endogenous kynurenine metabolite with excitotoxic properties, induced only minor electroencephalographic (EEG) modification and no neurotoxicity in rats with a mature blood-brain barrier (BBB). BBB permeability was altered in rats by focal unilateral irradiation of the cortex (7 mm in diameter and 5 mm in depth) with protons (60 Gy, 9 Gy/min). Three days after irradiation, Evans blue dye staining showed BBB breakdown in the dorsal hippocampus of the irradiated hemisphere. No neurotoxic or convulsant effects were observed as a consequence of the radiation itself. When BBB-lesioned rats were challenged with 225 mg/kg Quin iv, epileptiform activity was observed on EEG analysis. Tonic-clonic seizures were induced by 225-450 mg/kg Quin. Light microscopic analysis showed a dose-related excitotoxic type of lesion restricted to the hippocampus ipsilateral to the irradiated side. Neurodegeneration was prevented by local injection of 120 nmol d(-)2-amino-7-phosphonoheptanoic acid, a selective N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonist. No lesions or EEG or behavioral modifications occurred after 450 mg/kg nicotinic acid, an inactive analog of Quin. The potential neurotoxic and convulsant effects of increased blood levels of Quin under conditions of altered BBB permeability are discussed.
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