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The protective role of astroglia in the early period of experimental lead toxicity in the rat

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Although the clinical manifestations of lead (Pb) neurotoxicity are documented, the subcellular mechanisms of its action are still an open question. The purpose of this study was to assess the function of nerve ending particles after acute lead exposure and to investigate whether it exerts a toxic effect on astroglial functions. The studies were performed using the rodent model of acute lead toxicity. Cellular fractions were used in biochemical measurements synaptosomes and glial plasmalemmal vesicles (GPV). Since a procedure for the isolation of the fraction of astroglial origin has been developed, it becomes possible to investigate lead-astroglia interactions after in vivo exposure. It is of importance because most of the studies concerning lead toxicity were performed using astroglial culture systems. It was found that the uptake of glutamate (Glu) to the synaptosomes was lowered and KCl-dependent release was increased, suggesting the impairment of glutamatergic transmission leading to the elevation of extracellular amino acid concentration. In contrast, glutamate uptake to the GPV fraction was significantly elevated. The activity of the marker enzyme glutamine synthetase (GS) was also significantly increased in the GPV fraction. The activation of glial functions suggest a regulatory role for these cells in the early period of acute lead toxicity.
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L. Struzynska, Laboratory of Pathobiochemistry of the Central Nervous System, Department of Neurochemistry, Medical Research Centre, Polish Academy of Sciences, 5 Pawinski St., 02-106 Warsaw, Poland, Email:
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