Radiation therapy is widely used to treat primary and metastatic brain tumors, but it may also lead to delayed neurological complications. Oligodendrocytes in the central nervous system produce myelin, and myelin integrity becomes highly vulnerable after brain irradiation. In this study, mice at different developmental stages were used to test the age-dependent sensitivity of myelin formation and maintenance, as well as behavioral performance after whole-brain irradiation (WBI). Mice at postnatal days 21 and 28 and at 2 months received a single dose of 25 Gy WBI. Behavioral tests for general locomotor activity and motor coordination revealed an age-dependent response after WBI. Quantitative observation revealed a sharp decrease in the number of oligodendrocytes beginning at day 1 after WBI, which recovered during different observation intervals in white matter and gray matter in mice of different ages. Myelin basic protein (MBP) staining revealed disparate quantities in an age- and brain-region-dependent pattern between groups after WBI, which was confirmed using Black-Gold staining. In summary, the response to radiation in mice of different ages provided insight into the potential of oligogenesis in microenvironments at respective stages of myelin regeneration, which may reduce central nervous system impairment and optimize the prognosis after radiation treatment.
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Vol. 188 • No. 5