Genetic aspects of behavioral neurotoxicology
Considerable progress has been made over the past couple of decades concerning the molecular bases of neurobehavioral function and dysfunction. The field of neurobehavioral genetics is becoming mature. Genetic factors contributing to neurologic diseases such as Alzheimer's disease have been found and evidence for genetic factors contributing to other diseases such as schizophrenia and autism are likely. This genetic approach can also benefit the field of behavioral neurotoxicology. It is clear that there is substantial heterogeneity of response with behavioral impairments resulting from neurotoxicants. Many factors contribute to differential sensitivity, but it is likely that genetic variability plays a prominent role. Important discoveries concerning genetics and behavioral neurotoxicity are being made on a broad front from work with invertebrate and piscine mutant models to classic mouse knockout models and human epidemiologic studies of polymorphisms. Discovering genetic factors of susceptibility to neurobehavioral toxicity not only helps identify those at special risk, it also advances our understanding of the mechanisms by which toxicants impair neurobehavioral function in the larger population. This symposium organized by Edward Levin and Annette Kirshner, brought together researchers from the laboratories of Michael Aschner, Douglas Ruden, Ulrike Heberlein, Edward Levin and Kathleen Welsh-Bohmer conducting studies with Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila, fish, rodents and humans studies to determine the role of genetic factors in susceptibility to behavioral impairment from neurotoxic exposure.