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Age-Related Susceptibility to Epileptogenesis and Neuronal Loss in Male Fischer Rats Exposed to Soman and Treated with Medical Countermeasures

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US Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense Aberdeen Proving Ground United States

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Elderly individuals compose a large percentage of the world population however, few studies have addressed the efficacy of current medical countermeasures MCMs against the effects of chemical warfare nerve agent exposure in aged populations. We evaluated the efficacy of the anticonvulsant diazepam in an old adult rat model of soman GD poisoning and compared the toxic effects to those observed in young adult rats when anticonvulsant treatment is delayed. After determining their respective median lethal dose LD50 of GD, we exposed young adult and old adult rats to an equitoxic 1.2 LD50 dose of GD followed by treatment with atropine sulfate and the oxime HI-6 at 1 min after exposure, and diazepam at 30 min after seizure onset. Old adult rats that presented with status epilepticus were more susceptible to developing spontaneous recurrent seizures SRSs. Neuropathological analysis revealed that in rats of both age groups that developed SRS, there was a significant reduction in the density of mature neurons in the piriform cortex, thalamus, and amygdala, with more pronounced neuronal loss in the thalamus of old adult rats compared with young adult rats. Furthermore, old adult rats displayed a reduced density of cells expressing glutamic acid decarboxylase 67, a marker of GABAergic interneurons, in the basolateral amygdala and piriform cortex, and a reduction of astrocyte activation in the piriform cortex. Our observations demonstrate the reduced effectiveness of current MCM in an old adult animal model of GD exposure and strongly suggest the need for countermeasures that are more tailored to the vulnerabilities of an aging population.

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  • Pharmacology
  • Chemical, Biological and Radiological Warfare

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