Prenatal Exposure to Ultrasound Waves Impacts Neuronal Migration in Mice
Eugenius S. B. C. Ang, Jr, Vicko Gluncic, Alvaro Duque, Mark E. Schafer and Pasko Rakic
Neurons of the cerebral neocortex in mammals, including humans, are generated during fetal life in the proliferative zones and then migrate to their final destinations by following an inside-to-outside sequence. The present study examined the effect of ultrasound waves (USW) on neuronal position within the embryonic cerebral cortex in mice. We used a single BrdU injection to label neurons generated at embryonic day 16 and destined for the superficial cortical layers. Our analysis of over 335 animals reveals that, when exposed to USW for a total of 30 min or longer during the period of their migration, a small but statistically significant number of neurons fail to acquire their proper position and remain scattered within inappropriate cortical layers and/or in the subjacent white matter. The magnitude of dispersion of labeled neurons was variable but systematically increased with duration of exposure to USW. These results call for a further investigation in larger and slower-developing brains of non-human primates and continued scrutiny of unnecessarily long prenatal ultrasound exposure.