PloS one

Differential sensitivity of prefrontal cortex and hippocampus to alcohol-induced toxicity.

PMID 25188266


The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is a brain region responsible for executive functions including working memory, impulse control and decision making. The loss of these functions may ultimately lead to addiction. Using histological analysis combined with stereological technique, we demonstrated that the PFC is more vulnerable to chronic alcohol-induced oxidative stress and neuronal cell death than the hippocampus. This increased vulnerability is evidenced by elevated oxidative stress-induced DNA damage and enhanced expression of apoptotic markers in PFC neurons. We also found that one-carbon metabolism (OCM) impairment plays a significant role in alcohol toxicity to the PFC seen from the difference in the effects of acute and chronic alcohol exposure on DNA repair and from exaggeration of the damaging effects upon additional OCM impairment in mice deficient in a key OCM enzyme, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). Given that damage to the PFC leads to loss of executive function and addiction, our study may shed light on the mechanism of alcohol addiction.