How Does Ethanol Affect Embryo Development?

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Background and need: During embryo development many factors can determine the future outcome and growth of developing embryo. These factors, whether genetic or environmental, will influence the cells within the embryo and could result in a lasting developmental abnormality, such as unwanted apoptosis. Ethanol, a known teratogen, is one such unorthodox environmental factor that if present will have an effect on the embryo’s development; namely defects in the cardiovascular system, structural organization, central nervous system, and even prenatal failure. (Carvan et al. 2004). The purpose of our research is to determine when the administration of ethanol will have the greatest impact on apoptosis of the developing embryo. In 1951, Hamburger …show more content…
Ethanol is known to have teratogenic effects in development. Excessive cell death is a mechanism of teratogenesis (Sulik et al. 1988). At 18 hours, gastrulation is finished and neurulation begins. During the first two days of development, the embryo is vulnerable to disturbances, and is considered to beis in a critical point of development (Warin). Administering a teratogen like ethanol, during this critical point, could have negative effects on the embryo. Exposure to teratogens at peri-gastrulation and neurulation has been shown to increase cell death (Cartwright and, Smith, 1995). It is hypothesized that if ethanol is administered at 12, 36, and 60 hours, then there will be increased levels of cell death at all time points, with cell death at 12 hours having the greatest impact. Our objective in this experiment is not only to show the adverse effects of ethanol on embryo development, but more specifically to determine if there is any given time during embryo development at which the presence of ethanol is either more or less detrimental to the overall health of the forming embryo, thus resulting in a greater amount of cell …show more content…
This expected due to research that has been done that show critical points of development to be during gastrulation and neurulation, occurring during hour 0 to hour 24 (Warin). Potential benefits from this research include a greater understanding of ethanol’s effect on apoptosis in developing embryos, understanding of the plasticity and resilience of embryonic cells, and addition to the knowledge of the critical points in chick embryo development.

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