Acta Med. 2001, 44: 21-27

The Long Term Influence of Low-Level Sarin Exposure on Behavioral and Neurophysiological Functions in Rats

Jiří Kassa, Marie Koupilová, Josef Herink, Josef Vachek

Purkyně Military Medical Academy in Hradec Králové, Department of Toxicology, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic

Received September 1, 2000
Accepted January 1, 2001

1. Long term effects of low doses of highly toxic organophosphorus agent sarin on behavioral and neurophysiological functions were studied in rats exposed to sarin by inhalation. The toxic effects of sarin were monitored using a functional observational battery (FOB), an automatic measurement of motor activity and a test of excitability of central nervous system at 3, 6 and 12 months following sarin exposure. 2. The results indicate that sarin at symptomatic as well as asymptomatic doses (level 2 and 3) is able to induce some neurotoxic effects (a decrease in activity and mobility, an alteration of gait, an increase in stereotyped behavior) including an increase in the excitability of central nervous system (an increase in convulsive activity following the administration of pentamethylenetetrazole) in rats at 3 months following inhalation exposure. Some sings of increased excitability were also observed in sarin-exposed rats following 6 or 12 months (an increase in exploratory activity, body temperature and a hindlimb grip strength at 6 months following exposure to sarin at asymptomatic doses, an increase in tail-pinch response at 12 months following exposure to sarin at symptomatic doses). 3. Therefore, nerve agents such as sarin seem to be harmful not only at high, clinically symptomatic doses but also at low, clinically asymptomatic doses because of long term manifestation of alteration of neurophysiological functions in sarin-exposed rats without disruption of cholinergic nervous system.


This study was supported by the grant of Ministry of Defence, No 66020397202.


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