The effect of methylnitrosourea (MNU) on cerebellar and cerebral DNA, RNA, protein, lysosomal enzymes (acid DNase, RNase, phosphatase, and beta-glucuronidase), and 2′,3′-cyclic nucleotide 3′-phosphohydrolase (2′,3′-CNPase) activities was studied in rats from birth through 12 days of age. Subcutaneous injection of MNU in a dose of 0.625 mmol/kg caused a suppression of increase in weights and content of DNA, RNA, and protein of cerebellum, but no changes in those of the cerebrum or in body weight. Ratios of protein and RNA to DNA were substantially elevated by MNU in the cerebellum but not in the cerebrum. Acid DNase and acid RNase activities of MNU-treated rats were significantly elevated beyond the increase of these activities in controls in the cerebellum, but no change in these activities by MNU was observed in the cerebrum. A slight elevation in acid phosphatase activity was observed in the cerebellum but not in the cerebrum after MNU pretreatment. Beta-glucuronidase and 2′,3′-CNPase activities were not changed in the cerebellum or in the cerebrum. These results suggest that in the developing brain, especially in the cerebellum at the mitotic stage, MNU caused cell damage and inhibited cell mitosis.
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