Synchrotron-generated microplanar beams (microbeams) provide the most stereo-selective irradiation modality known today. This novel irradiation modality has been shown to control seizures originating from eloquent cortex causing no neurological deficit in experimental animals. To test the hypothesis that application of microbeams in the hippocampus, the most common source of refractory seizures, is safe and does not induce severe side effects, we used microbeams to induce transections to the hippocampus of healthy rats. An array of parallel microbeams carrying an incident dose of 600 Gy was delivered to the rat hippocampus. Immunohistochemistry of phosphorylated γ-H2AX showed cell death along the microbeam irradiation paths in rats 48 hours after irradiation. No evident behavioral or neurological deficits were observed during the 3-month period of observation. MR imaging showed no signs of radio-induced edema or radionecrosis 3 months after irradiation. Histological analysis showed a very well preserved hippocampal cytoarchitecture and confirmed the presence of clear-cut microscopic transections across the hippocampus. These data support the use of synchrotron-generated microbeams as a novel tool to slice the hippocampus of living rats in a minimally invasive way, providing (i) a novel experimental model to study hippocampal function and (ii) a new treatment tool for patients affected by refractory epilepsy induced by mesial temporal sclerosis.
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