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

1
Department of Psychology, Catholic University, Largo A. Gemelli 1, 20123 Milan, Italy
2
Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(10), 2992; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19102992
Received: 9 September 2018 / Revised: 27 September 2018 / Accepted: 29 September 2018 / Published: 30 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neuron Cell Death)
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: fetal alcohol; GABA; ethanol; cerebral cortex; pyramidal neurons; apoptosis fetal alcohol; GABA; ethanol; cerebral cortex; pyramidal neurons; apoptosis
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Granato, A.; Dering, B. Alcohol and the Developing Brain: Why Neurons Die and How Survivors Change. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19, 2992.

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