Magnetic resonance imaging analysis of long-term neuropathology after exposure to the nerve agent soman: correlation with histopathology and neurological dysfunction. Academic Article uri icon


  • Nerve agents (NAs) produce acute and long-term brain injury and dysfunction, as evident from the Japan and Syria incidents. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a versatile technique to examine such chronic anatomical, functional, and neuronal damage in the brain. The objective of this study was to investigate long-term structural and neuronal lesion abnormalities in rats exposed to acute soman intoxication. T2-weighted MRI images of 10 control and 17 soman-exposed rats were acquired using a Siemens MRI system at 90days after soman exposure. Quantification of brain tissue volumes and T2 signal intensity was conducted using the Inveon Research Workplace software and the extent of damage was correlated with histopathology and cognitive function. Soman-exposed rats showed drastic hippocampal atrophy with neuronal loss and reduced hippocampal volume (HV), indicating severe damage, but had similar T2 relaxation times to the control group, suggesting limited scarring and fluid density changes despite the volume decrease. Conversely, soman-exposed rats displayed significant increases in lateral ventricle volumes and T2 times, signifying strong cerebrospinal fluid expansion in compensation for tissue atrophy. The total brain volume, thalamic volume, and thalamic T2 time were similar in both groups, however, suggesting that some brain regions remained more intact long-term after soman intoxication. The MRI neuronal lesions were positively correlated with the histological markers of neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation 90days after soman exposure. The predominant MRI hippocampal atrophy (25%) was highly consistent with massive reduction (35%) of neuronal nuclear antigen-positive (NeuN+ ) principal neurons and parvalbumin-positive (PV+ ) inhibitory interneurons within this brain region. The HV was significantly correlated with both inflammatory markers of GFAP+ astrogliosis and IBA1+ microgliosis. The reduced HV was also directly correlated with significant memory deficits in the soman-exposed cohort, confirming a possible neurobiological basis for neurological dysfunction. Together, these findings provide powerful insight on long-term region-specific neurodegenerative patterns after soman exposure and demonstrate the feasibility of in vivo neuroimaging to monitor neuropathology, predict the risk of neurological deficits, and evaluate response to medical countermeasures for NAs.

published proceedings

  • Ann N Y Acad Sci

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Reddy, S. D., Wu, X., Kuruba, R., Sridhar, V., & Reddy, D. S.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Reddy, Sandesh D||Wu, Xin||Kuruba, Ramkumar||Sridhar, Vidya||Reddy, Doodipala Samba

publication date

  • November 2020