Prenatal exposure to ethanol affects neurodevelopmental processes, leading to a variety of physical and cognitive impairments collectively termed Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). The molecular level ethanol-induced alterations that underlie FASD are poorly understood and are difficult to study in mammals. Ethanol exposure has been shown to affect regulation and differentiation of embryonic stem cells in vitro, suggesting that in vivo effects such as FASD could arise from similar alterations of stem cells. In this study, we hypothesize that ethanol exposure affects head regeneration and neuroregeneration in the Schmidtea mediterranea planarian. S. mediterranea freshwater flatworms have remarkable regenerative abilities arising from an abundant population of pluripotent adult somatic stem cells known as neoblasts. Here, we evaluated the mobility-normalized photophobic behavior of ethanol-exposed planaria as an indicator of cognitive function in intact and head-regenerating worms. Our studies show that exposure to 1% ethanol induces a delay in the reacquisition of behavior during head regeneration that cannot be attributed to the effect of ethanol on intact worms. This suggests that the S. mediterranea planarian could provide insight into conserved neurodevelopmental processes that are affected by ethanol and that lead to FASD in humans.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience