Authors: Paul Bachner, Donald G. MCKay; David Rittenberg
Departments of pathology and biochemistry,College of Physicians and surgeons of Columbia University, Communicated January 9, 1964
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1964 March; 51(3): 464–471.
In 1933, when Urey first described the separation and properties of deuterium,’ he suggested that a „marked effect upon living organisms” might be produced in view of the physicochemical differences that existed between hydrogen and its heavier isotope. Shortly thereafter, Lewis observed that tobacco seeds did not germinate in heavy water and did so only slowly in 50 per cent D20.
This observation was the first in a long series of experiments that over the course of the ensuing thirty years has demonstrated the widespread and frequently unique effects on biological systems of deuterium oxide. The purpose of this communication is to present the results of our investigations into the nature of the anatomic changes attendant upon the replacement of one third or more of the total body water of a mouse with heavy water.
Considerable information has accumulated during the past three decades on the pathophysiology of deuterium intoxication, however, very little information exists on the morphological effects observed in association with the extensive and diverse functional derangements that have been described.
Summary.-(1) Young male mice were given varying concentrations of heavy water ad libitum; their clinical behavior was observed and at death gross as well as microscopic examination was performed. (2) The clinical course was in accord with descriptions previously recorded in the literature and consisted of hyperactivity superseded by lethargy, coma, and convulsions. (3) Microscopic findings included focal renal tubular necrosis, profound alterations in testicular architecture and cellular morphology, and abnormalities of the excretory ducts of the salivary glands. (4) The relationship of the anatomic changes described to the pathophysiology of deuterium intoxication is discussed.