An official journal of the Society for Biology of Reproduction and the Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of Polish Academy of Sciences in Olsztyn

June 2015 (No. 1)

Neuronal basis of reproductive dysfunctions associated with diet and alcohol: From the womb to adulthood

Monika Gawałek, Joanna H. Sliwowska *

Laboratory of Neurobiology, Institute of Zoology, Poznań University of Life Sciences, Wojska Polskiego 71C, 60-625 Poznań, Poland

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The theory that individuals are born as tabula rasa and that their knowledge comes from experience and perception is no longer true. Studies suggest that experience is gained as early as in the mother’s womb. Moreover, environmental stressors like alcohol or inade-quate diet can affect physiological systems such as the hypothalmic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. The effects of these stressors can manifest as alterations in sexual development and adult reproductive functions. In this review, we consider and compare evidence from animal models and human studies demonstrating the role of environmental stressors (alcohol and under- or overnutrition) on the HPG axis. We review the role of alcohol and inadequate diet in prenatal reproductive system programming and consider specific candidate neurons in the adult hypothalamus through which reproductive function is being regulated. Finally, we review evidence from animal studies on the role that alcohol and diet play in fertility and reproductive disorders. We conclude that in order to better understand reproductive failure in animals and humans we need to consider in utero development and pay more attention to early life experience when searching for the origins of reproductive diseases.

Reproductive Biology 2015, 15 (2):

* Addresses for correspodence: (M. Gawałek), (J.H. Sliwowska).