A team of scientists from the Columbia Disaster and Risk Management Center (CDRC) and the Global Environmental Health Research Foundation (funded by the Engineering and Science Ministry) has mapped the molecular mechanisms that induced vomiting and nausea in mice spontaneously exposed to extreme low-frequency radiation. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes the study of the environment in which the mice vomited, as well as the mapping technique.

Vomiting in animals is triggered by exposure to extremely low doses of radiation. It is performed as a direct effect of physiological stress on the body. In the short term during this treatment, vomit and nausea may ensue. Over time, vomiting may lead to a release of agents that cause a strong inflammatory response. Such observations have led physicians to suspect that exposure to radiation causes long-term changes to biological health, particularly for tissues found in bodily organs such as the heart and liver.

In order to better understand how radiation alters the body’s physiology in the urocytes, the scientists led by Kasper Duttmann, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia Engineering, scanned abdominal tissues for any disturbances in the subjects’ gastrointestinal tract. They were aware that the abdomen has a special cell that acts as a major nuclear compartment, in particular its small intestine. When the cells are badly affected, the small intestine also becomes large and difficult to access-an approach that resembles acute radiation poisoning. As such, the researchers were able to map everything found within one of the mouse’s small intestine.

For the study, the scientists designed a more accurate scanning procedure called non-invasive density-P-loaded in vivo (NIDO) scanning for edges. NIDO is a less invasive technique that does not require special equipment. As such, it potentially could be used in routine medical and emergency settings in addition to mapping nuclear spaces in the body. To achieve this, they used non-invasive camera intervention for a week. The scientists know that some human patients experience nausea to mottling of their gastrointestinal tract after high-dose radiation irradiation, and proved that NIDO scanning is also possible in mice.

The result was in no dice: the mice vomited during the long-term study period, and did so in the mice treated by placing them on a course of radiation for the period of high-dose irradiation. Notably, the long-term “corrected” position of the mice prompted the researchers to conclude that a pituitary response in the gut attacks the radiation, wiping out radiation damage. They also found out that as the mice damaged their digestive tract due to radiation, parasites were not present and thus reduced immune activity.

To confirm the feasibility of this method of VVN induced vomiting, the researchers performed a further animal difference scan with normal or highly treated mice. Tested in the following way: