Developmental neuropathology of environmental agents

Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2004;44:87-110. doi: 10.1146/annurev.pharmtox.44.101802.121424.


The developing central nervous system (CNS) is more vulnerable to injury than the adult one. Although a great deal of research has been devoted to subtle effects of developmental exposure, such as neurobehavioral changes, this review instead focuses on a number of chemicals that have been shown, in several experimental models as well as humans, to cause morphological changes in the developing nervous system. Chemicals that are discussed include methylmercury (MeHg), lead (Pb), antiepileptic drugs, and ethanol. Additionally, the issue of silent neurotoxicity, i.e., persistent morphological and/or biochemical injury that remains clinically unapparent until later in life, is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / embryology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities / chemically induced*
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Ethanol / toxicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lead Poisoning / embryology
  • Lead Poisoning / etiology
  • Mercury Poisoning, Nervous System / embryology
  • Mercury Poisoning, Nervous System / etiology
  • Methylmercury Compounds / toxicity
  • Pregnancy


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Methylmercury Compounds
  • Ethanol