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J Neurobiol. 1995 Jan;26(1):47-61.

Ethanol influences on the chick embryo spinal cord motor system: analyses of motoneuron cell death, motility, and target trophic factor activity and in vitro analyses of neurotoxicity and trophic factor neuroprotection.

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University of Florida Brain Institute, Department of Neuroscience, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville 32610-0244.


A series of in vivo and in vitro experiments were conducted to determine the influence of prenatally administered ethanol on several aspects of the developing chick embryo spinal cord motor system. Specifically, we examined: (1) the effect of chronic ethanol administration during the natural cell death period on spinal cord motoneuron numbers; (2) the influence of ethanol on ongoing embryonic motility; (3) the effect of ethanol exposure on neurotrophic activity in motoneuron target tissue (limb bud); and (4) the responsiveness of cultured spinal cord neurons to ethanol, and the potential of target-derived neurotrophic factors to ameliorate ethanol neurotoxicity. These studies revealed the following: Chronic prenatal ethanol exposure reduces the number of motoneurons present in the lateral motor column after the cell death period [embryonic day 12 (E12)]. Ethanol tends to inhibit embryonic motility, particularly during the later stages viewed (E9-E11). Chronic ethanol exposure reduces the neurotrophic activity contained in target muscle tissue. Such diminished support could contribute to the observed motoneuron loss. Direct exposure of spinal cord neurons to ethanol decreases neuronal survival and process outgrowth in a dose-dependent manner, but the addition of target muscle extract to ethanol-containing cultures can ameliorate this ethanol neurotoxicity. These studies demonstrate ethanol toxicity in a population not previously viewed in this regard and suggest a mechanism that may be related to this cell loss (i.e., decreased neurotrophic support).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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