2010 Volume 23 Issue 1 Pages 25-30
N,N'-bis(2-chloroethyl)-N-nitrosourea (BCNU) is one of the major drugs used in chemotherapy against malignant gliomas due to its effects, such as induction of bifunctional alkylation of DNA and formation of interstrand DNA cross-linkages, and induces cortical malformations in the fetal and neonatal rat brain. In this study, pregnant rats were treated with 7.5 mg/kg of BCNU on gestational day 13 (GD 13), and their fetuses were collected from 12 to 72 hours after BCNU treatment in order to examine the timecourses of morphological and immunohistochemical changes in neural progenitor cells in the developing brain. The number of pyknotic cells in the telencephalon peaked at 24 h and then gradually decreased until 72 h. The majority of these pyknotic cells were positive for cleaved caspase-3, a key executioner of apoptosis. The pyknotic cells showed the ultrastructural characteristics of apoptosis. The number of p53-positive cells began to increase prior to the appearance of apoptotic cells and p21-positive cells. The number of phosphorylated-histone H3-positive cells (mitotic cells) decreased from 24 to 36 h. The number of Iba1-positive cells (microglial cells) in the telencephalon increased from 12 to 48 h. These results suggest that BCNU induces p53-dependent apoptosis and reduces proliferative activity, resulting in reduction of the weight of the telencephalon and the thickness of the telencephalic wall in the fetal brain. This study will help to clarify the mechanisms of BCNU-induced fetal brain toxicity.