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Brain Res. 1981 Jun;227(3):333-40.

Prenatal ethanol exposure permanently reduces the number of pyramidal neurons in rat hippocampus.


The effect of prenatal ethanol exposure in the rat on the development of dorsal hippocampal pyramidal and dentate gyrus granule cells was examined. Ethanol was administered in a nutritionally adequate liquid diet to pregnant rats during days 10--21 of gestation. Control groups were either pair-fed the same liquid diet, except for equicaloric substitution of sucrose for ethanol, or received free access to pelleted laboratory food. The brains of 60-day-old offspring exposed to ethanol during gestation were found to have 20% fewer dorsal hippocampal pyramidal cells than did those of controls. Prenatal ethanol exposure, however, did not affect the number of dentate gyrus granule cells. Prenatal exposure to ethanol permanently reduced the number of prenatally formed hippocampal neurons without altering physical growth, which suggested that the developing nervous system is particularly sensitive to the toxic effects of ethanol.

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