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Neurotox Res. 2002 Jun;4(4):267-79.

Neurodevelopmental liabilities of substance abuse.

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Servicio de Psiquiatria, Hospital 12 de Octobre, Ctra. Andalucia Km. 5,400, 28041 Madrid, Spain.


The perinate is particularly risk-prone to chemical species which have the potential of inducing neuronal apoptosis or necrosis and thereby adversely altering development of the brain, to produce life-long functional and behavioral deficits. This paper is an overview for many substances of abuse, but the purview is much more broadened by the realization that even elevated levels of estrogens and corticosteroids in the pregnant mother can act as neuroteratogens, by passing via the placenta and altering neural development or inducing apoptosis in the perinate. Finally, therapeutic risks of anesthetics are highlighted, as these too induce neuronal apoptosis in the neonate by either blocking N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors or by acting as gamma-aminobutyric acid agonists. By understanding the mechanisms involved it may ultimately be possible to interrupt the mechanistic scheme and thereby prevent neuroteratological processes.

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