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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2003 Feb;27(2):324-35.

Neural stem cells and alcohol.

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University of North Carolina and Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


This article summarizes the proceedings of a symposium held at the 2002 Research Society on Alcoholism Meeting in San Francisco, California. The aim of this symposium was to review research on the effects of ethanol on neural stems cells and neurogenesis. Ethanol is known to alter neurogenesis during development; however, recent studies indicate that the brain forms new neurons from stem cells throughout life. Furthermore, stem cells can be transplanted into the brain, creating exciting new possibilities to study brain function. The symposium covered these research areas. Dr. Michael W. Miller reviewed knowledge on the effects of ethanol on stem cell proliferation and differentiation during development. Dr. Wu Ma described studies in culture indicating that (1) neural stem cells express functional muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAchR), (2) mAchR-mediated proliferation involves Ca signaling and mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphorylation, and (3) phosphoinositol-3 kinase is a downstream effector for mAchR-mediated cell proliferation via activation of Akt. Drs. Kim Nixon and Fulton T. Crews followed with in vivo studies on ethanol's effects on adult neural stem cell proliferation and differentiation. Dr. W. Michael Zawada described studies directed at dopamine neuron cell transplants into mammalian central nervous system. These studies clearly establish that ethanol has significant effects on stem cells.

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