The biological effects and regulatory mechanisms of low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation are still rather controversial. Therefore, in this study we investigated the effects of low-dose-rate radiation on zebrafish neurodevelopment and the role of miRNAs in radiation-induced neurodevelopment. Zebrafish embryos received prolonged gamma-ray irradiation (0 mGy/h, 0.1 mGy/h, 0.2 mGy/h, 0.4 mGy/h) during development. Neurodevelopmental indicators included mortality, malformation rate, swimming speed, as well as the morphology changes of the lateral line system and brain tissue. Additionally, spatiotemporal expression of development-related miRNAs (dre-miR-196a-5p, dre-miR-210-3p, dre-miR-338) and miRNA processing enzymes genes (Dicer and Drosha) were assessed by qRT-PCR and whole mount in situ hybridization (WISH). The results revealed a decline in mortality, malformation and swimming speed, with normal histological and morphological appearance, in zebrafish that received 0.1 mGy/h; however, increased mortality, malformation and swimming speed were observed, with pathological changes, in zebrafish that received 0.2 mGy/h and 0.4 mGy/h. The expression of miRNA processing enzyme genes was altered after irradiation, and miRNAs expression was downregulated in the 0.1 mGy/h group, and upregulated in the 0.2 mGy/h and 0.4 mGy/h groups. Furthermore, ectopic expression of dre-miR-210-3p, Dicer and Drosha was also observed in the 0.4 mGy/h group. In conclusion, the effect of low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation on neurodevelopment follows the threshold model, under the regulation of miRNAs, excitatory effects occurred at a dose rate of 0.1 mGy/h and toxic effects occurred at a dose rate of 0.2 mGy/h and 0.4 mGy/h.
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Vol. 196 • No. 6