291872 The Effects of Ethanol On Regenerative Capabilities of Planarian Flatworms As a Model for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Monday, October 29, 2012
Hall B (Convention Center )
Jonathan Soong, Brittany Arnold, Michael Avery, Daniel Beach, Robert D. Cusack, Jesse R. Lowe and Mary M. Staehle, Chemical Engineering, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ

Alcohol has been shown to have adverse effects on prenatal human development, which present as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) after birth. Specifically, symptoms include morphological abnormalities, nervous system defects, and/or intellectual dysfunction.  Timing and alcohol dosage influence the severity of the symptoms, however the dynamics of these effects are impossible to determine with the available models.  To address these outstanding research questions, the Staehle lab has established the planarian as a new model system for these studies.  Planaria are freshwater flatworms that have the remarkable ability to regenerate any part of their body, including their brain and central nervous system. We hypothesize that planarian regeneration is a dynamic process analogous to brain development.  Planaria are also a promising model for FASD research due to the fact that their central nervous system development can be tested and observed during regeneration.  We have used planaria exposed to a 1% v/v ethanol solution after decapitation previously to model central nervous system growth.  These previous studies discovered delayed development in planaria exposed to alcohol during head regeneration. In this study, in an attempt to isolate the point at which ethanol has the greatest effect on the development of the planarian nervous system, the planaria were exposed to a solution of 1% v/v ethanol for various 24-hour periods during different points of their regeneration.  Our results show that alcohol has the greatest observable effect when administered between days 3-4, inducing a 1-day delay in the reacquisition of normal behavior.  This provides a focused window for future studies of the effects of alcohol on brain development.

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