STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

Beware, sons of cocaine-using fathers risk memory loss: Study

Fathers who use cocaine at the time of conceiving a child may be putting their sons at risk of learning disabilities and memory loss, a new study has warned.

Published: 27th February 2017 06:03 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th February 2017 06:03 PM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purpose only.

By PTI

Washington: Fathers who use cocaine at the time of conceiving a child may be putting their sons at risk of learning disabilities and memory loss, a new study has warned.

The findings reveal that drug abuse by fathers - separate from the well-established effects of cocaine use in mothers - may negatively impact cognitive development in their male offspring, researchers said.

The study by researchers at University of Pennsylvania in the US found evidence that the sons of fathers that ingested cocaine prior to conception struggle to make new memories.

Their findings demonstrated that the sons - but not the daughters - of male rats that consumed cocaine for an extended period of time could not remember the location of items in their surroundings and had impaired synaptic plasticity in hippocampus, a brain region critical for learning and spatial navigation in humans and rodents.

"These results suggest that the sons of male cocaine addicts may be at risk for learning deficits," said R Christopher Pierce, professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Pierce and his colleagues propose that epigenetic mechanisms are at the root of the problem. Epigenetics refers to heritable traits that are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence, as is the case with genetic inheritance.

DNA is tightly wound around proteins called histones, like thread around a spool and chemical changes to histones influence the expression of genes, which is an epigenetic process. The research showed that cocaine use in dads caused epigenetic changes in the brain of their sons, thereby changing the expression of genes important for memory formation.

D-serine, a molecule essential for memory, was depleted in male rats whose father took cocaine and replenishing the levels of D-serine in the sons' hippocampus improved learning in these animals. The researchers showed that cocaine abuse in dads broadly altered the chemical marks on histones in the brain of their sons, even though the offspring were never exposed to cocaine.

Chemical modifications on the histones were changed to favour active transcription of genes in the hippocampus of male rats with a paternal history of cocaine taking, allowing more production of the enzyme D-amino acid oxidase, which degrades D-serine. The researchers propose that increased expression of the enzyme, driven by changes in the epigenetic landscape, cause the memory problems in the sons of addicted rats.

"There is substantial interest in the development of D-serine and related compounds, which are well tolerated by humans, as drug therapies," Pierce said.

"The ability of D-serine to reverse the adverse effects of paternal cocaine taking on learning adds potential clinical relevance to our research," he added.

The findings were published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.



Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp