University of Iowa researchers who seek to reduce fetal alcohol syndrome cases -- which annually number nearly 8,800 in the United States -- have received a major grant to study how a certain pathway in the brain protects against the toxic effects of alcohol. The two-year, $387,187 grant is funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health.
Fetal alcohol exposure damages the nervous system and can cause irreversible brain dysfunction, including mental retardation, epilepsy, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, said the project's principal investigator, Bahri Karaay, Ph.D., associate research scientist in pediatrics in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.
"Inherent signaling mechanisms in the central nervous system can prevent the damaging effects of such insults as alcohol. However, alcohol consumption during pregnancy can overwhelm these protective measures and damage the fetus, as we see in fetal alcohol syndrome," Karaay said. "Our research goal is to find genes and pathways that constitute this neuroprotective system, so we can use that information to prevent the toxic effects."
The study co-investigator is Daniel Bonthius, M.D., Ph.D., UI professor of pediatrics, a physician with Children's Hospital of Iowa and recently elected president of the National Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Group, a satellite organization of the Research Society on Alcoholism.
The UI study builds on a research collaboration by Bonthius, Karaay and Nicholas Pantazis, Ph.D., UI professor of anatomy and cell biology, and utilizes mouse and rat models. The team's investigations have shown that neurons from the cere
Contact: Becky Soglin
University of Iowa