Regular Alcohol Consumption Will Kill Neonatal Cells in Adult Brain

Researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston recently discovered that alcohol can kill stem cells in the brains of adult mice. Brain stem cells, producing new nerve cells and effecting a lot in maintaining normal cognitive function, and this study will open a new insight to fight against chronic alcoholism. The researchers also found that brain stem cells respond differently to alcohol exposure in key brain regions of adult mice. For the first time, they claim that these changes are different for women and men. Relevant research results published in Stem Cell Reports.

Chronic alcohol abuse can cause many brain injuries and neurodegenerative diseases. Scientists used to believe that the number of nerve cells in an adult individual's brain was determined in the early stage of life and that the best way for the treatment of alcohol-induced brain damage is to protect those stem cells that are still alive.

Ping Wu, the professor in the Department of Neurology and Cell Biology at University of Texas, said that this study found adult individual brains produce stem cells that create new nerve cells and thus provide a new way to approach the problem of alcohol-related brain changes, she also claimed, ‘However, before the new approaches can be developed, we need to understand how alcohol impacts the brain stem cells at different stages in their growth, in different brain regions and in the brains of both males and females.’

In this study, Wu and her colleagues used an advanced technique to label brain stem cells, and then observe how they migrated and developed into specific neural cells over time to study the long-term effects of alcohol intake on them.

Professor Wu claimed that long-term alcohol consumption will lead to the death of most brain stem cells, what’s worse, it will reduce the generation and development of new nerve cells.

The researchers found that different brain regions respond differently to alcohol intake. The brain area that is most susceptible to alcohol is one of two brain regions that produce new brain cells in the adult individual brain.

In addition, they also pointed out that the brain of female mice showed more severe damage than males. Females showed more severe symptoms of poisoning, and the number of fibroblasts in the subventricular layer decreased more.

With this model, scientists look forward to getting more knowledge on how alcohol interacts with brain stem cells, which will eventually lead us to a clearer comprehension of the best treatment for alcoholism.


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