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September 1991

Alcohol-Induced Brain Changes in Dogs

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, La Jolla (Drs Hansen, Masliah, and Terry, Ms Lemere, and Mr De Teresa); Departments of Neuroscience (Drs Natelson and Niemann), and Medicine (Dr Regan), University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark.

Arch Neurol. 1991;48(9):939-942. doi:10.1001/archneur.1991.00530210065025

• We studied the neuropathologic effects of chronic alcohol ingestion on the brains of healthy, well-nourished, male mongrel dogs. Five experimental dogs were provided 36% of their calories as ethyl alcohol for 1 year. Following killing, their brains were weighed, photographed, sectioned, and processed for computerized morphometric determinations of ventricular size, cortical thickness, and neocortical neuron and glial cell populations. Compared with a similarly handled control group, the alcoholic dog brains showed lateral ventricular enlargement, cortical thinning in the temporal lobe only, and fewer glial cells in the temporal and frontal cortices. There were no statistically significant differences between the alcoholic and control groups in brain weight, frontal or parietal cortical thickness, or neocortical neuron populations. These results imply a disproportionate vulnerability of white matter to the damaging effects of alcohol with consequent lateral ventricular enlargement, and some regional variation in neocortical susceptibility to alcohol-induced cortical thinning and glial cell loss. In general, such changes are consistent with those described in neuroradiologic imaging studies of human alcoholics.

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