Environmental enrichment alters neurotrophin levels after fetal alcohol exposure in rats.
ABSTRACT Prenatal alcohol exposure causes abnormal brain development, leading to behavioral deficits, some of which can be ameliorated by environmental enrichment. As both environmental enrichment and prenatal alcohol exposure can individually alter neurotrophin expression, we studied the interaction of prenatal alcohol and postweaning environmental enrichment on brain neurotrophin levels in rats.
Pregnant rats received alcohol by gavage, 0, 4, or 6 g/kg/d (Zero, Low, or High groups), or no treatment (Naïve group), on gestational days 8 to 20. After weaning on postnatal day 21, offspring were housed for 6 weeks in Isolated, Social, or Enriched conditions. Levels of nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) were then measured in frontal cortex, occipital cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellar vermis.
Prenatal alcohol exposure increased NGF levels in frontal cortex (High-dose group) and cerebellar vermis (High- and Low-dose groups); increased BDNF in frontal cortex, occipital cortex and hippocampus (Low-dose groups), and increased NT-3 in hippocampus and cerebellar vermis (High-dose). Environmental enrichment resulted in lower NGF, BDNF, and NT-3 levels in occipital cortex and lower NGF in frontal cortex. The only significant interaction between prenatal alcohol treatment and environment was in cerebellar vermis where NT-3 levels were higher for enriched animals after prenatal alcohol exposure, but not for animals housed under Isolated or Social conditions.
Both prenatal alcohol exposure and postweaning housing conditions alter brain neurotrophin levels, but the effects appear to be largely independent. Although environmental enrichment can improve functional outcomes, these results do not provide strong support for the hypothesis that rearing in a complex environment ameliorates prenatal alcohol effects on brain neurotrophin levels in rats.
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ABSTRACT: Ethanol produces abnormalities in the developing nervous system, with certain regions being vulnerable during well-defined periods. Neonatal rodent cerebellum is particularly susceptible to ethanol during the early postnatal period [on postnatal days 4-5 (P4-5)], while this region is resistant to ethanol at a slightly later time (P7-9). We assessed basal levels of several substances which may be involved in differential temporal ethanol vulnerability in neonatal cerebellum, and analyzed alterations in these substances after early ethanol exposure. Assessments were made of neurotrophic factors nerve growth factor, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, neurotrophin-3, and neurotrophin-4; apoptosis-related proteins Bcl-2, Bcl-xl, Bax, Bcl-xs, Bad, phosphorylated-Bad, phosphorylated-Akt, and phosphorylated-c-Jun N-terminal kinase; and the antioxidants superoxide dismutase, glutathione reductase, and catalase. These analyses quantified basal levels (in controls), and sequential changes following acute ethanol exposure at the vulnerable and resistant cerebellar periods (P4, P7). Comparisons of basal levels of the molecules assessed between P4 and P7 revealed higher levels of total proapoptotic Bad at p4, higher levels of the protective pAkt kinase at P7, and lower levels of proapoptotic pJNK at P7. Other basal levels did not differ. While ethanol-mediated alterations were found at both ages favoring both apoptosis and survival, the apoptosis-promoting changes produced on P4 exceeded those on P7, and most occurred within the first 2 hr after exposure, a critical survival/death period. The number of alterations favoring survival were similar at the two ages, but at P7 most occurred within the first 2 hr after exposure, possibly acting in a protective manner. Differential temporal vulnerability to ethanol in the neonatal cerebellum appears to be paralleled by cellular alterations in neurotrophic factors, apoptosis-regulatory proteins, and/or antioxidant activities which generally favor apoptosis at the most sensitive age and survival at the resistant age.Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 05/2003; 27(4):657-69. · 3.42 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Abnormalities of the cerebellar vermis have been well documented in animal models of fetal alcohol syndrome. At this point, it is not known if the same brain region is affected in humans prenatally exposed to alcohol. In this study, the area of the cerebellar vermis was measured from brain magnetic resonance images of 9 children and young adults with prenatal alcohol exposure and 24 control subjects in the same age range. Six of the exposed children met standard criteria for fetal alcohol syndrome. The remaining three subjects had significant histories of prenatal exposure to alcohol, but did not have enough of the classic facial features for the diagnosis. For each subject with a suitable midsagittal section, three vermal areas were circumscribed: anterior vermis (vermal lobules I-V), posterior vermis (vermal lobules VI and VII), and the remaining vermal area (including lobules VIII-X). Statistical analyses revealed that the anterior region of the vermis was significantly smaller in subjects with prenatal alcohol exposure, whereas the posterior region and the remaining vermal area did not differ between groups. Previous findings from an animal model of neonatal alcohol exposure have documented Purkinje cell loss in vermal lobules I-V and IX-X, with notable sparing in lobules VI-VII. Thus, the results of both studies indicate similar patterns of abnormal brain development in the anterior vermal region, with apparent sparing in the posterior vermal region. Our findings, for the first time, suggest that regionally specific Purkinje cell death may also occur in humans prenatally exposed to alcohol.Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 03/1996; 20(1):31-4. · 3.42 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Chronic ethanol treatment of cultured neurons from various brain areas has been found to increase NMDA receptor function and to alter the levels of some NMDA receptor subunit proteins. Because the cultured neurons are exposed to ethanol during a period when the NMDA receptor is undergoing developmental changes in subunit expression, we wished to determine whether ethanol treatment alters this developmental pattern. We found that 3 days of treatment of cerebellar granule neurons with ethanol, which was previously reported to increase NMDA receptor function, resulted in a delay in the 'developmental switch' of the NR2A and NR2B subunits, i.e. the developmental decrease in NR2B and increase in NR2A protein expression. As a result, the level of NR2B was higher, and that of NR2A was lower, in the ethanol-treated cells than in control cells. Cross-linking experiments showed that the changes in total receptor subunit proteins levels were reflected in cell-surface expressed proteins, indicating changes in the amount of functional receptors. These results were confirmed by a higher potency of glycine at the NMDA receptor in the ethanol-treated cells, as determined by NMDA/glycine-induced increases in intracellular Ca(2+). The results suggest that the mechanism by which ethanol alters NMDA receptor expression in cultured neurons, where receptors are undergoing development, differs from the mechanism of ethanol's effect on NMDA receptors in adult brain. Changes in the proportion of NR2A and NR2B subunits may contribute to effects of ethanol on neuronal development.Journal of Neurochemistry 08/2001; 78(2):396-405. · 3.97 Impact Factor