Exposure to heavy-ion radiation during cancer treatment or space travel may cause cognitive detriments that have been associated with changes in neuron morphology and plasticity. Observations in mice of reduced neuronal dendritic complexity have revealed a dependence on radiation quality and absorbed dose, suggesting that microscopic energy deposition plays an important role. In this work we used morphological data for mouse dentate granular cell layer (GCL) neurons and a stochastic model of particle track structure and microscopic energy deposition (ED) to develop a predictive model of high-charge and energy (HZE) particle-induced morphological changes to the complex structures of dendritic arbors. We represented dendrites as cylindrical segments of varying diameter with unit aspect ratios, and developed a fast sampling method to consider the stochastic distribution of ED by δ rays (secondary electrons) around the path of heavy ions, to reduce computational times. We introduce probabilistic models with a small number of parameters to describe the induction of precursor lesions that precede dendritic snipping, denoted as snip sites. Predictions for oxygen (16O, 600 MeV/n) and titanium (48Ti, 600 MeV/n) particles with LET of 16.3 and 129 keV/μm, respectively, are considered. Morphometric parameters to quantify changes in neuron morphology are described, including reduction in total dendritic length, number of branch points and branch numbers. Sholl analysis is applied for single neurons to elucidate dose-dependent reductions in dendritic complexity. We predict important differences in measurements from imaging of tissues from brain slices with single neuron cell observations due to the role of neuron death through both soma apoptosis and excessive dendritic length reduction. To further elucidate the role of track structure, random segment excision (snips) models are introduced and a sensitivity study of the effects of the modes of neuron death in predictions of morphometric parameters is described. An important conclusion of this study is that δ rays play a major role in neuron morphological changes due to the large spatial distribution of damage sites, which results in a reduced dependence on LET, including modest difference between 16O and 48Ti, compared to damages resulting from ED in localized damage sites.
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Vol. 189 • No. 3