It is generally accepted that alcohol and nicotine affect learning ability and memory functions, especially in adolescents. In the present study, the effects of alcohol and nicotine on cell proliferation and apoptosis in the dentate gyrus of young rats were investigated. The results show that cell proliferation is suppressed by alcohol and nicotine. Furthermore, alcohol and nicotine increase the number of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL)-positive cells. Based on the results presented in this study, it can be suggested that alcohol- and nicotine-related impairment in learning and memory functions may be due to alcohol- and nicotine-induced suppression of new cell formation and acceleration of apoptosis, especially during adolescence.
Copyright 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.