Alcohol and the Developing Brain: Why Neurons Die and How Survivors Change


Granato A & Dering B (2018) Alcohol and the Developing Brain: Why Neurons Die and How Survivors Change. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 19 (10), Art. No.: 2992.

The consequences of alcohol drinking during pregnancy are dramatic and usually referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). This condition is one of the main causes of intellectual disability in Western countries. The immature fetal brain exposed to ethanol undergoes massive neuron death. However, the same mechanisms leading to cell death can also be responsible for changes of developmental plasticity. As a consequence of such a maladaptive plasticity, the functional damage to central nervous system structures is amplified and leads to permanent sequelae. Here we review the literature dealing with experimental FASD, focusing on the alterations of the cerebral cortex. We propose that the reciprocal interaction between cell death and maladaptive plasticity represents the main pathogenetic mechanism of the alcohol-induced damage to the developing brain.

fetal alcohol; GABA; ethanol; cerebral cortex; pyramidal neurons; apoptosis

International Journal of Molecular Sciences: Volume 19, Issue 10

Publication date30/09/2018
Publication date online30/09/2018
Date accepted by journal29/09/2018


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