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Alcohol Alcohol. 2009 Mar-Apr;44(2):136-40. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agn102. Epub 2009 Jan 15.

The neuropathology of alcohol-related brain damage.

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Department of Pathology, University of Sydney and Sydney South West Area Health Service, Sydney, Australia.


Excessive alcohol use can cause structural and functional abnormalities of the brain and this has significant health, social and economic implications for most countries in the world. Even heavy social drinkers who have no specific neurological or hepatic problems show signs of regional brain damage and cognitive dysfunction. Changes are more severe and other brain regions are damaged in patients who have additional vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome). Quantitative studies and improvements in neuroimaging have contributed significantly to the documentation of these changes but mechanisms underlying the damage are not understood. A human brain bank targeting alcohol cases has been established in Sydney, Australia, and tissues can be used for structural and molecular studies and to test hypotheses developed from animal models and in vivo studies. The recognition of potentially reversible changes and preventative medical approaches are important public health issues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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