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UK research links signaling pathways to combating fetal alcohol syndrome

Baby lies in crib

/ by UK HealthCare

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders can occur in a person whose mother consumed alcohol during pregnancy. Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), the most severe of these conditions, affects up to one in 20 U.S. children and often results in brain damage and growth problems.    

Researchers at the UK College of Medicine have discovered that targeting a specific signaling pathway could potentially provide a new therapeutic avenue for treating FAS. 

Kai Zhang, a doctoral student in the UK Department of Pharmacology & Nutritional Sciences, has worked as a member of professor Jia Luo’s lab to study signaling pathways in the brain. Their research has revealed that targeting the MCP-1 signaling pathway could inhibit alcohol-induced neuronal death in the developing brain. 

MCP-1 is a small protein that is produced by the immune cells in the brain after alcohol consumption. The protein binds to its receptor, CCR2, and creates prolonged inflammation, which kills neurons and causes the brain to shrink as well as long-term behavioral deficits.  

While there is currently no cure for FAS, this study sheds light on the development of anti-MCP-1/CCR2 therapy and brings more awareness about abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy. This research was recently published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation. To view the complete study, visit

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