A Systematic Review of the Effects of Perinatal Alcohol Exposure and Perinatal Marijuana Exposure on Adult Neurogenesis in the Dentate Gyrus

Marijuana and alcohol are both substances that, when used during pregnancy, may have profound effects on the developing fetus. There is evidence to suggest that both drugs have the capacity to affect working memory, one function of the hippocampal formation, however there is a paucity of data on how perinatal exposure to alcohol or cannabis impacts the process of adult neurogenesis.This systematic review examines immunohistochemical data from adult rat and mouse models that assess perinatal alcohol or perinatal marijuana exposure. A comprehensive list of search terms was designed and used to search three separate databases. All results were imported to Mendeley and screened by two authors. Consensus was reached on a set of final papers that met the inclusion criteria and their results were summarized.Twelve papers were identified as relevant, ten of which pertained to the effects of perinatal alcohol on the adult hippocampus, and two pertained to the effects of perinatal marijuana on the adult hippocampus. Cellular proliferation in the dentate gyrus was not affected in adult rats and mice exposed to alcohol perinatally. In general, perinatal alcohol exposure did not have a significant and reliable effect on the maturation and survival of adult born granule neurons in the dentate gyrus. In contrast, interneuron numbers appear to be reduced in the dentate gyrus of adult rats and mice exposed perinatally to alcohol. Perinatal marijuana exposure was also found to reduce inhibitory interneuron numbers in the dentate gyrus.Perinatal alcohol exposure and perinatal marijuana exposure both act on inhibitory interneurons in the hippocampal formation of adult rats. These findings suggest simultaneous perinatal alcohol and marijuana exposure (SAM) may have a dramatic impact on inhibitory processes in the dentate gyrus.