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Neurosci Res. 2006 Dec;56(4):400-8. Epub 2006 Sep 15.

Prenatal-through-postnatal exposure to moderate levels of ethanol leads to damage on the hippocampal CA1 field of juvenile rats: a stereology and Golgi study.

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Laboratorio de Psicobiologia, Centro de Investigacion Biomedica de Michoacan, IMSS, Morelia, Mich, Mexico.


Experimental paradigms conducted to assess the neurotoxic effects of ethanol exposure on hippocampus development have yielded controversial findings. Hippocampal CA1 population and some cytoarchitectural parameters of pyramidal cells were studied after exposure to ethanol during early development, in rats. Examination of 30-day-old offspring of rats exposed to moderate levels of ethanol during gestation through lactation showed an increased volume of the hippocampal CA1 field compared to untreated or pair-fed control pups, as well as a reduced number of pyramidal neurons. In addition, the number of spines from surviving CA1 pyramidal neurons was reduced. Furthermore, stubby and wide spines were proportionally increased, while the proportion of mushroom and ramified spines was reduced; no variation in the proportion of thin spines was observed. Because alcoholic women usually drink alcohol before, during, and after pregnancy, a broad-range experimental model of alcohol exposure was used in this study. The present findings show that experimental exposure to moderate levels of ethanol, resembling the human situation in alcoholic mothers, leads to loss of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons, along with several pathological and plastic events in the dendritic arborization of these neurons. Some ethanol-induced excitotoxicity-related mechanisms, which may be underlying these effects, are discussed.

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