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Neurotoxicology. 2001 Oct;22(5):593-9.

Glia and fetal alcohol syndrome.

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Instituto de Investigaciones Citológicas (FVIB), Valencia, Spain.


Glial cells and their interactions with neurons play vital roles during the ontogeny of the nervous system and in the adult brain. Alcohol intake during pregnancy can cause mental retardation and neurobehavioral disorders as well as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Clinical and experimental evidence indicate that in utero alcohol exposure induces structural and functional abnormalities in gliogenesis and in glial-neuronal interactions, suggesting a potential role of glial cells on ethanol-induced developmental brain abnormalities. In vivo studies have shown ethanol-associated alterations in the migration of neurons and radial glial as well as in astrogliogenesis and myelin development. In astrocytes in primary culture, ethanol has been found to (1) impair cell growth and differentiation, (2) decrease the levels of glialfibrillary acidic protein or GFAP (an astrocyte marker) and its gene expression and (3) interfere with the stimulatory effect of trophic factors affecting their release and receptor expression. Evidence also suggests that ethanol affects intracellular protein trafficking, which may mediate some effects of ethanol on astroglial cells. These findings suggest that glial cells are target of ethanol toxicity during brain development and may underlie the neurodevelopmental abnormalities observed after in utero alcohol exposure and in FAS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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