Effects of p-xylene inhalation on axonal transport in the rat retinal ganglion cells.
Although the solvent xylene is suspected of producing nervous system dysfunction in animals and humans, little is known regarding the neurochemical consequences of xylene inhalation. The intent of this study was to determine the effect of intermittent, acute, and subchronic p-xylene exposure on the axonal transport of proteins and glycoproteins within the rat retinofugal tract. A number of different exposure regimens were tested ranging from 50 ppm for a single 6-hr exposure to 1600 ppm 6 hr/day, 5 days/week, for a total of 8 exposure days. Immediately following removal from the inhalation chambers rats were injected intraocularly with [35S]methionine and [3H]fucose (to label retinal proteins and glycoproteins, respectively) and the axonal transport of labeled macromolecules to axons (optic nerve and optic tract) and nerve endings (lateral geniculate body and superior colliculus) was examined 20 hr after precursor injection. Only relatively severe exposure regimens (i.e., 800 or 1600 ppm 6 hr/day, 5 days/week, for 1.5 weeks) produced significant reductions in axonal transport; there was a moderate reduction in the axonal transport of 35S-labeled proteins in the 800-ppm-treated group which was more widespread in the 1600 ppm-treated group. Transport of 3H-labeled glycoproteins was less affected. Assessment of retinal metabolism immediately after isotope injection indicated that the rate of precursor uptake was not reduced in either treatment group. Furthermore, rapid transport was still substantially reduced in animals exposed to 1600 ppm p-xylene and allowed a 13-day withdrawal period. These data indicate that p-xylene inhalation decreases rapid axonal transport supplied to the projections of the rat retinal ganglion cells immediately after cessation of inhalation exposure and that this decreased transport is still apparent 13 days after the last exposure. This decreased supply of cellular materials to the axon and nerve ending regions could initiate the neuronal malfunction reported in solvent-exposed animals and humans.
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