Environmental and genetic determinants of neural migration and postmigratory survival*

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Abstract:

The study of genetic/epigenetic/environmental factors underlies all therapeutic and preventive approaches in fetal, perinatal and paediatric neurology, including rehabilitation (3). In this paper, we selected a few targets of environmental determinants of brain development leading to underlying priorities for protection of the developing brain. Preparation of the neural germinative epithelium has to be protected against noxious pharmacological agents. New tools have been developed to improve early neural teratology, including the whole‐embryo culture method. The neopallial astrocytic precursors have a dual origin. Astrocytes of the white matter and deep neocortical layers derive from transformed radial glial cells, whereas astrocytes of the upper neocortical layers derive from astrocytic precursors that migrate from the late germinative zone after the end of neuronal migration. Among numerous factors able to interfere with these gliogenetic events are the control factors of the lysosomal and autophagic functions, interfering with radial glial cell transformation into astrocytes. All lesions interrupting the migratory corridors of late astroglial migration can produce cytoarchitectonic disturbances of the neocortical supragranular layers, with long‐term consequences. The developing brain is weltering in a complex mixture including newly recognized excitotoxic substances, cytokines and growth factors. These substances are sometimes environmental friends like maternal vasointestinal peptide, which prevents brain intrauterine growth retardation. They are sometimes excellent endogenous friends like neurotrophic excitatory agents in physiological conditions. They become often dangerous killers triggered by environmental signals like hypoxias/ischaemias and toxins produced by intrauterine infections, launching the excitotoxic cascade. In this paper, we reviewed mainly environmental determinants interfering with neural cytogenesis and histogenesis during the embryonic, fetal and neonatal span of early life.

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1651-2227.1997.tb18339.x

Affiliations: Service de Neurologie Pédiatrique and Laboratoire de Neurologie du Développement, Hôpital Robert Debré, Faculté de Médecine Xavier-Bichat, Université de Paris VII, Paris, France

Publication date: July 1, 1997

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