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Title: Sex differences in operant responding and survivability following exposure to space radiation

item CARRIHILL-KNOLL, KIRSTY - University Of Maryland
item RABIN, BERNARD M. - University Of Maryland
item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara

Submitted to: Society for Neuroscience Abstracts and Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/21/2012
Publication Date: 10/13/2012
Citation: Carrihill-Knoll, K., Rabin, B., Shukitt Hale, B. 2012. Sex differences in operant responding and survivability following exposure to space radiation [abstract]. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts and Proceedings. 915:14.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: On exploratory class missions, such as a mission to Mars, astronauts will be exposed to types and doses of radiation (galactic cosmic rays [GCR]) which are not experienced in low earth orbit where the space shuttle and International Space Station operate. Despite the fact that the crew on such a mission is likely to be composed of both male and female astronauts, little research has been done on the effects of the space radiation environment on females. As part of a series of experiments on the long-term effects of exposure to heavy particles on cognitive performance using a ground-based model for exposure to GCR, 2-month old male and female rats were exposed to 12C and 56Fe particles. The rats were maintained in the animal facility at UMBC for up to 24 months following irradiation. They were checked daily for the development of tumors or other health problems. The rats were euthanized if an evident tumor was bleeding or had grown to 5 cm in size, if the rat showed signs of distress or pain, or if the rats stopped eating or showed a general deterioration in health. Both male rats and ovariectomized female rats with estradiol implants showed an equivalent disruption of operant responding following exposure to both particles. However, the female rats exposed to either particle survived for a significantly longer period of time than male rats. Although the mechanisms underlying these differences in the effects of exposure to heavy particles on survival have yet to be elucidated, the results of these experiments may have implications for astronauts on exploratory class missions. Supported by NASA Grant: NNX08AM66G