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Research Article

A biochemical method for assessing the neurotoxic effects of misonidazole in the rat.


A proven biochemical method for assessing chemically induced neurotoxicity has been applied to the study of the toxic effects of misonidazole (MISO) in the rat. This involves the fluorimetric measurement of beta-glucuronidase and beta-galactosidase activities in homogenates of rat nervous tissue. The tissues analysed were sciatic/posterior tibial nerve (SPTN) cut into 4 sections, trigeminal ganglia and cerebellum. MISO administered i.p. to Wistar rats in doses greater than 300 mg/kg/day for 7 consecutive days produced maximal increases in both beta-glucuronidase and beta-galactosidase activities in th SPTN at 4 weeks (140-180% of control values). The highest increases were associated with the most distal secretion of the nerve. Significant enzyme-activity changes were also found in the trigeminal ganglia and cerebellum of MISO-dosed rats. The greatest activity occurred 4-5 weeks after dosing, and was dose-related. It is concluded that, in the rat, MISO can produce biochemical changes consistent with a dying-back peripheral neuropathy, and biochemical changes suggestive of cerebellar damage. This biochemical approach would appear to offer a convenient quantitative method for the detection of neurotoxic effects of other potential radio-sensitizing drugs.