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Alcohol. 1989 Jul-Aug;6(4):303-10.

Hippocampal mossy fiber-CA3 synapses after chronic alcohol consumption and withdrawal.

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Department of Anatomy, Porto Medical School, Alameda HernĂ¢ni Monteiro, Portugal.


A quantitative study of the CA3 pyramidal cells and of the mossy fiber-CA3 synapses (MF-CA3) of the rat hippocampal formation was performed in rats alcohol-fed for 6, 12 and 18 months and respective age-matched controls. Additional groups alcohol-fed for 6 and 12 months and withdrawn for 6 months were also studied. The numerical densities of the CA3 pyramids and of the synapses were calculated applying the disector method to adjacent sections of the CA3 pyramidal cell layer and the stratum lucidum respectively. The results showed a progressive loss of pyramidal cells in alcohol-treated and withdrawal groups and a significant decrease of MF-CA3 synapses after 18 months of alcohol feeding. Taking into account that both hippocampal granule and CA3 pyramidal cells are reduced, the maintenance of the relative number of MF-CA3 synapses in 6- and 12-month alcohol-fed rats suggests the formation of new contacts. The increased proportion of the MF plasmalemma occupied by synapses can also be interpreted as an additional compensation process. These data show that MF-CA3 synapses display plastic and degenerative changes after chronic alcohol consumption and withdrawal which presumably will lead to functional modifications of the hippocampal circuitry.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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