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Histol Histopathol. 1989 Apr;4(2):183-92.

Effects of chronic alcoholism on the amygdaloid complex. A study in human and rats.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, University of Navarra, Spain.


The effect of chronic alcoholism on the amygdaloid complex was studied in 16 humans and 10 rats. Eighteen patients whose death was due to extraneural causes were selected as controls with 3 rats. The alcoholic cases, in addition to the data collected in their clinical history, showed, microscopically confirmed, liver cirrhosis or steatosis. The alcoholics and controls were divided into 4 groups: 35-44 years old (4 cases), 45-54 (5 cases), 55-64 (5 cases) over 65 (2 alcoholics and 4 controls). The alcoholic ingestion in the rats (Wistar, 10 weeks old) was 3 ml at a concentration of 30% in water solution administered by esophagic intubation, for 48 (5 rats) or 58 weeks (5 rats). To judge the state of the amygdaloid nuclei, a neuronal count and caryometry were carried out. The numerical data obtained in this study were analyzed statistically. The results in humans have paralleled those obtained in rats and the behaviour of the different nuclei of the amygdala was uniform and can be summarized as follows: 1) ethanol provoked a prominent and early loss of neurons, and 2) the remainder of non-affected neurons did not react in order to compensate for this neuronal loss.

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