Neurological evaluation of toxic axonopathies in rats: Acrylamide and 2,5-hexanedione

R. M. LoPachin, J. F. Ross, M. L. Reid, S. Das, S. Mansukhani, E. J. Lehning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


This research was conducted to determine which neurological test or combination of tests can provide sufficient functional information to compliment biochemical or morphological endpoints in mechanistic studies of toxic axonopathies. Using several neurological indices, we evaluated the effects of two prototypical neurotoxicants that cause distal axonopathy: acrylamide monomer (ACR) and 2,5-hexanedione (HD). For each toxicant, rats were exposed to two daily dosing rates (ACR, 50 mg/kg per day i.p. or 21 mg/kg per day, p.o.; HD, 175 or 400 mg/kg per day, p.o.) and neurological endpoints were determined two to three times per week. Specific tests included observations of spontaneous locomotion in an open field, and measurements of hindlimb landing foot splay, forelimb and hindlimb grip strength and the hindlimb extensor thrust response. For all neurological parameters, the magnitude of defect induced by either neurotoxicant was not related to daily dose-rate, e.g. both the lower and higher ACR dose-rates produced the same degree of neurological dysfunction. Instead, dose-rate determined onset and progression of neurotoxicity, e.g. the higher ACR dose-rate produced moderate neurotoxicity after approximately 8 days of intoxication, whereas the lower dose-rate caused moderate neurotoxicity after 26 days. Regardless of dose-rate, ACR-exposed rats exhibited gait abnormalities (ataxia, splayed hindlimbs), in conjunction with increased landing hindfoot spread and decreased hindlimb grip strength and extensor thrust. HD intoxicated rats exhibited hindlimb muscle weakness as indicated by a gait abnormality (dropped hocks) and decreases in grip strength and the extensor thrust response. However, hindlimb landing foot spread was not affected by HD exposure. For both neurotoxicants, gait changes preceded or coincided with alterations in other neurologic indices. These results suggest that observations of spontaneous behavior in an open field represent a practical approach to assessing temporal development and extent of neurological dysfunction induced by axonopathic toxicants such as ACR and HD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-110
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2002


  • Ataxia
  • Extensor thrust response
  • Foot splay
  • Gait
  • Grip strength
  • Neurotoxicant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Toxicology


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