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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 9740353, 11 pages
Research Article

Assessment of the Central Effects of Natural Uranium via Behavioural Performances and the Cerebrospinal Fluid Metabolome

1Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire, Pôle de la RadioProtection de l’Homme, Service de Radiobiologie et d’Epidémiologie, Laboratoire de RadioToxicologie Expérimentale, IRSN, BP 17, 92262 Fontenay-aux-Roses Cedex, France
2Aix Marseille Université (AMU), NORT, 27 boulevard Jean Moulin, 13385 Marseille Cedex 5, France
3Inserm, UMR-S 1062, 27 boulevard Jean Moulin, 13385 Marseille Cedex 5, France
4Inra, UMR-INRA 1260, 27 boulevard Jean Moulin, 13385 Marseille Cedex 5, France

Received 4 February 2016; Accepted 4 April 2016

Academic Editor: Hargita Hegyesi

Copyright © 2016 P. Lestaevel et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Natural uranium (NU), a component of the earth’s crust, is not only a heavy metal but also an alpha particle emitter, with chemical and radiological toxicity. Populations may therefore be chronically exposed to NU through drinking water and food. Since the central nervous system is known to be sensitive to pollutants during its development, we assessed the effects on the behaviour and the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) metabolome of rats exposed for 9 months from birth to NU via lactation and drinking water (1.5, 10, or 40 mg·L−1 for male rats and 40 mg·L−1 for female rats). Medium-term memory decreased in comparison to controls in male rats exposed to 1.5, 10, or 40 mg·L−1 NU. In male rats, spatial working memory and anxiety- and depressive-like behaviour were only altered by exposure to 40 mg·L−1 NU and any significant effect was observed on locomotor activity. In female rats exposed to NU, only locomotor activity was significantly increased in comparison with controls. LC-MS metabolomics of CSF discriminated the fingerprints of the male and/or female NU-exposed and control groups. This study suggests that exposure to environmental doses of NU from development to adulthood can have an impact on rat brain function.