The 2012 meeting of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study Group (FASDSG) focused on the development and ethics of biomarkers for fetal alcohol exposure. This one-day international conference brought students and trainees together with clinicians and researchers to discuss the latest research on FASD.
BACKGROUND: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are conditions characterized by physical anomalies, neurodevelopmental abnormalities, and neurocognitive deficits, including intellectual, executive, and memory deficits. There are no specific biological treatments for FASDs, but rodent models have shown that prenatal or postnatal choline supplementation reduces cognitive and behavioral deficits. Potential mechanisms include phospholipid production for axonal growth and myelination, acetylcholine enhancement, and epigenetic effects.
Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is one of the key features of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), and IUGR can be mediated by impaired placentation. Insulin-like growth factors (IGF) regulate placentation due to stimulatory effects on extravillous trophoblasts, which are highly motile and invasive. Previous studies demonstrated that extravillous trophoblasts express high levels of aspartyl-(asparaginyl) beta-hydroxylase (AAH), a gene that is regulated by IGF and has a critical role in cell motility and invasion.