Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 53, Issue 10, pp 6786–6798 | Cite as

Alterations of Synaptic Proteins in the Hippocampus of Mouse Offspring Induced by Developmental Lead Exposure

  • Haiyang Yu
  • Yingjun Liao
  • Tingting Li
  • Yan Cui
  • Gaoyang Wang
  • Fenghong Zhao
  • Yaping JinEmail author


Lead exposure can cause cognitive dysfunction in children, thus it still raises important public health concerns in China and other countries. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms are still not well defined. In this study, we aimed to elucidate the mechanisms underlying lead neurotoxicity by focusing on alterations of synaptic proteins in the mouse hippocampus at the early life. Mother mice and their offspring were exposed to 0, 0.5, 1.0, and 2.0 g/L lead via drinking water from the first day of gestation until postnatal day (PND) 40. Synaptic ultrastructure and expressions of postsynaptic density protein-95 (PSD-95), neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) and synaptophysin (SYP) at both protein and gene levels in the hippocampus were analyzed. The results revealed that developmental lead exposure caused a diminished postsynaptic density in the hippocampus. Moreover, the protein levels of PSD-95, nNOS, and SYP decreased significantly due to developmental lead exposure. On the other hand, the messenger RNA (mRNA) levels of PSD-95 and SYP decreased significantly in PND 40 mice exposed to lead. Collectively, developmental lead exposure might result in decreased protein and gene expressions of both presynaptic and postsynaptic proteins. Our findings raised a possibility that alterations of synaptic proteins in the hippocampus induced by lead exposure at the early life might serve an important role for the subsequent intellectual impairments, e.g., deficits in spatial learning and memory ability at later ages shown in our recently published paper.


Developmental lead exposure Mice Synaptic proteins Postsynaptic density protein-95 (PSD-95) Neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) Synaptophysin (SYP) 



This work was supported by The National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 31070992), Program for Liaoning Innovative Research Team in University (LT2015028), Liaoning Provincial Natural Science Foundation (no. 20102263), and Science and Technology Plan Project of Educational Department of Liaoning Province (no. L2010559).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declared no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Haiyang Yu
    • 1
  • Yingjun Liao
    • 2
  • Tingting Li
    • 1
  • Yan Cui
    • 1
  • Gaoyang Wang
    • 1
  • Fenghong Zhao
    • 1
  • Yaping Jin
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Public HealthChina Medical UniversityShenyangPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of PhysiologyChina Medical UniversityShenyangPeople’s Republic of China

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