Maternal lead exposure decreases the levels of brain development and cognition-related proteins with concomitant upsurges of oxidative stress, inflammatory response and apoptosis in the offspring rats

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The presence of lead (Pb) in fetal brain may affect brain development-related proteins. We studied whether gestational/lactational Pb-exposure affects oxidative stress, proinflammatory response, apoptosis and levels of brain development/cognition-related proteins, including presynaptic synaptosome-associated protein-25 (SNAP-25), postsynaptic density protein-95 (PSD-95), brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), tyrosine receptor-kinase protein B (TrkB) and vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) in the offspring. Female Wistar rats were randomly divided into control and Pb-exposed mother groups. The Pb-exposed rats received 0.1% (w/v) Pb acetate via drinking water during pregnancy and lactation. Milk and mammary glands were collected from lactating mothers to measure milk/mammary gland levels of lipid peroxide (LPO), as indicator of oxidative stress and proinflammatory TNF-α. Afterwards, the pups were sacrificed to determine brain levels of Pb, LPO, TNF-α, cytochrome C, SNAP-25, PSD-95, BDNF, TrkB and VAChT. The levels of LPO and TNF-α increased in the milk/mammary glands of the Pb-exposed mothers, concurrently with increases in the levels of Pb, LPO, TNF-α and cytochrome C and decreases in the levels of SNAP-25, PSD-95, BDNF, TrkB and VAChT in the brains of their offspring. Our results demonstrate that Pb-exposure during development reduces the brain levels of PSD-95 and SNAP-25 (synaptogenesis-markers), with concomitant upsurges of oxidative stress, TNF-α and apoptosis in the offspring. Furthermore, BDNF-TrkB proteins that comprehend memory-related brain cognitions and/or VAChT that comprises cholinergic-neuromotor activities might be impaired by Pb-exposure. These findings provide evidence of toxic effects of Pb on brain development, at least, partially by decreasing the levels of PSD-95, SNAP-25 and other cognition-related proteins.

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