Different Patterns of Regional Purkinje Cell Loss in the Cerebellar Vermis as a Function of the Timing of Prenatal Ethanol Exposure in an Ovine Model.

Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology and Michael E. DeBakey Institute, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA, 77843.
Neurotoxicology and Teratology (Impact Factor: 2.76). 11/2012; 35(1). DOI: 10.1016/
Source: PubMed


Studies in rat models of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders have indicated that the cerebellum is particularly vulnerable to ethanol-induced Purkinje cell loss during the third trimester-equivalent, with striking regional differences in vulnerability in which early-maturing regions in the vermis show significantly more loss than the late-maturing regions. The current study tested the hypothesis that the sheep model will show similar regional differences in fetal cerebellar Purkinje cell loss when prenatal binge ethanol exposure is restricted to the prenatal period of brain development equivalent to the third trimester and also compared the pattern of loss to that produced by exposure during the first trimester-equivalent. Pregnant Suffolk sheep were assigned to four groups: first trimester-equivalent saline control group, first trimester-equivalent ethanol group (1.75g/kg/day), third trimester-equivalent saline control group, and third trimester-equivalent ethanol group (1.75g/kg/day). Ethanol was administered as an intravenous infusion on 3 consecutive days followed by a 4-day ethanol-free interval, to mimic a weekend binge drinking pattern. Animals from all four groups were sacrificed and fetal brains were harvested on gestation day 133. Fetal cerebellar Purkinje cell counts were performed in an early-maturing region (lobules I-X) and a late-maturing region (lobules VIc-VII) from mid-sagittal sections of the cerebellar vermis. As predicted, the third trimester-equivalent ethanol exposure caused a significant reduction in the fetal cerebellar Purkinje cell volume density and Purkinje cell number in the early-maturing region, but not in the late-maturing region. In contrast, the first trimester-equivalent ethanol exposure resulted in significant reductions in both the early and late-maturing regions. These data confirmed the previous findings in rat models that third trimester-equivalent prenatal ethanol exposure resulted in regionally-specific Purkinje cell loss in the early-maturing region of the vermis, and further demonstrated that first trimester ethanol exposure caused more generalized fetal cerebellar Purkinje cell loss, independent of the cerebellar vermal region. These findings support the idea that prenatal ethanol exposure in the first trimester interferes with the genesis of Purkinje cells in an unselective manner, whereas exposure during the third trimester selectively kills post-mitotic Purkinje cells in specific vermal regions during a vulnerable period of differentiation and synaptogenesis.

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    • "TUDIES OF FETAL alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) animal models have illustrated that the type and severity of ethanol (EtOH)-induced birth defects are largely dependent upon the treatment pattern and dosage along with the developmental stage of the conceptus at the time of EtOH exposure. While virtually all stages of embryonic and fetal development are vulnerable to the teratogenic effects of EtOH (Livy, 2003; Maier et al., 1999; Mooney and Miller, 2009; Sawant et al., 2013; Schneider et al., 2011), it is during the human first trimester-equivalent that most of the major structural abnormalities of the face, brain, and other organ systems are induced (Sulik, 2005). Given that most prenatal EtOH exposure occurs during the human first trimester, it is especially important to fully understand the teratogenic end points resulting from maternal EtOH use during this period (Coles et al., 1985; Cornelius et al., 1993; Floyd et al., 1999). "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: The first trimester of human development and the equivalent developmental period in animal models is a time when teratogenic ethanol (EtOH) exposure induces the major structural birth defects that fall within fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Previous FASD research employing an acute high dose maternal intraperitoneal EtOH treatment paradigm has identified sensitive periods for a number of these defects. Extending this work, this investigation utilized high resolution magnetic resonance microscopy (MRM)-based analyses to examine the dysmorphology resulting from maternal dietary EtOH intake occurring during selected first trimester-equivalent time periods. Methods: Female C57Bl/6J mice were acclimated to a liquid 4.8% EtOH (v/v)-containing diet, then bred while on standard chow. Dams were again provided the EtOH-containing liquid diet for a period that extended either from the beginning of gestational day (GD) 7 to the end of GD 11 or from the beginning of GD 12 to the end of GD 16. On GD 17, a subset of fetuses was selected for MRM-based analyses. Group comparisons were made for litter characteristics and gross dysmorphology, as well as whole and regional brain volumes. Results: EtOH-induced stage of exposure-dependent structural brain abnormalities were observed. The GD 7 to 11 EtOH-exposed group presented with a significant decrease in cerebellar volume and an increase in septal volume, while GD 12 to 16 EtOH treatment resulted in a reduction in right hippocampal volume accompanied by enlarged pituitaries. Additionally, the GD 12 to 16 EtOH exposure caused a high incidence of edema/fetal hydrops. Conclusions: These results illustrate the teratogenic impact of maternal dietary EtOH intake occurring at time periods approximately equivalent to weeks 3 through 6 (GD 7 to 11 in mice) and weeks 7 through 12 (GD 12 to 16 in mice) of human gestation, further documenting EtOH's stage of exposure-dependent neuroteratogenic end points and highlighting the vulnerability of selected brain regions during the first trimester. Additionally they suggest that clinical attention should be paid to fetal hydrops as a likely component of FASD.
    Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 06/2014; 38(7). DOI:10.1111/acer.12464 · 3.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Women who drink alcohol during pregnancy are at high risk of giving birth to children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Previous reports from our laboratory have shown that third trimester equivalent binge alcohol exposure at a dose of 1.75 g/kg/day results in significant fetal cerebellar Purkinje cell loss in fetal sheep and that both maternal and fetal adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) and cortisol levels are elevated in response to alcohol treatment. In this study, we hypothesized that repeated elevations in cortisol from chronic binge alcohol are responsible at least in part for fetal neuronal deficits. Animals were divided into four treatment groups: normal control, pair-fed saline control, alcohol and cortisol. The magnitude of elevation in cortisol in response to alcohol was mimicked in the cortisol group by infusing pregnant ewes with hydrocortisone for 6 h on each day of the experiment, and administering saline during the first hour in lieu of alcohol. The experiment was conducted on three consecutive days followed by four days without treatment beginning on gestational day (GD) 109 until GD 132. Peak maternal blood alcohol concentration in the alcohol group was 239 ± 7 mg/dl. The fetal brains were collected and processed for stereological cell counting on GD 133. The estimated total number of fetal cerebellar Purkinje cells, the reference volume and the Purkinje cell density were not altered in response to glucocorticoid infusion in the absence of alcohol. These results suggest that glucocorticoids independently during the third trimester equivalent may not produce fetal cerebellar Purkinje cell loss. However, the elevations in cortisol along with other changes induced by alcohol could together lead to brain injury seen in the fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
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    ABSTRACT: Heavy alcohol consumption during pregnancy negatively impacts the physical growth of the fetus. Although the deleterious effects of alcohol exposure during late gestation on fetal brain development are well documented, little is known about the effect on fetal bone mechanical properties or the underlying mechanisms. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of late gestational chronic binge alcohol consumption and alcohol-induced acidemia, a critical regulator of bone health, on functional properties of the fetal skeletal system. Suffolk ewes were mated and received intravenous infusions of saline or alcohol (1.75 g/kg) over 1 hour on 3 consecutive days per week followed by 4 days without treatment beginning on gestational day (GD) 109 and concluding on GD 132 (term = 147 days). The acidemia group was exposed to increased inspired fractional concentrations of CO2 to closely mimic the alcohol-induced decreases in maternal arterial pH seen in the alcohol group. Fetal femurs and tibias from the alcohol and acidemia groups were ~3 to 7% shorter in length compared with the control groups (p < 0.05). Three-point bending procedure demonstrated that fetal femoral ultimate strength (MPa) for the alcohol group was decreased (p < 0.05) by ~24 and 29%, while the acidemia group exhibited a similar decrease (p < 0.05) of ~32 and 37% compared with the normal control and saline control groups, respectively. Bone extrinsic and intrinsic mechanical properties including maximum breaking force (N) and normalized breaking force (N/kg) of fetal bones from the alcohol and acidemia groups were significantly decreased (p < 0.05) compared with both control groups. We conclude that late gestational chronic binge alcohol exposure reduces growth and impairs functional properties of the fetal skeletal system and that the repeated episodes of alcohol-induced maternal acidemia may be at least partially responsible for these effects.
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