Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) alters limb development that may lead to structural and functional abnormalities of the limb reported in children diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. To determine whether PAE alters the central representation of the forelimb we used the rodent barrel cortex as our model system where it was possible to visualize and quantitatively measure the size of the forepaw representation in the forepaw barrel subfield (FBS) in first somatosensory cortex. In the present study, we examined the effects of PAE on pattern and size of the forepaw and forepaw representation in FBS in neonatal rats at gestational day 32 that corresponds to postnatal day 9. Pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats were chronically intubated with binge doses of ethanol (6 g/kg) from gestational day 1 through gestational day 20. The offspring of the ethanol treated dams comprised the ethanol (EtOH) group. The effect of PAE on the EtOH group was compared with a nutritional-controlled pairfed (PF) group and a normal chowfed (CF) group. The ventral (glabrous) surface area of the forepaw digits, length of digit 2 through digit 5, and the corresponding glabrous forepaw digit representations in the FBS were measured and compared between treatment groups. In rats exposed to in utero alcohol, the sizes of the overall glabrous forepaw and forepaw digits were significantly reduced in EtOH pups compared to CF and PF pups; overall glabrous forepaw area was 11% smaller than CF controls. Glabrous digit lengths were also smaller in EtOH rats compared to CF controls and significantly smaller in digit 2 through digit 4. The glabrous digit representation in FBS was 18% smaller in the EtOH group when compared to the CF treatment. However, PAE did not produce malformations in the forepaw or alter the pattern of the forepaw representation in FBS; instead, PAE significantly reduced both body and brain weights compared to controls. Unexpectedly, little or no correlation was observed between the size of the glabrous forepaw compared to the size of the glabrous forepaw representation in the FBS for any of the treatment groups. The present findings of PAE-related alterations in sensory periphery and the central cortical representation may underlie deficits in sensorimotor integration reported among children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Children of mothers who abused alcohol during pregnancy are often reported to suffer from growth retardation and central nervous system (CNS) abnormalities. The use of prenatal alcohol exposed (PAE) animal models has revealed reductions in body and brain weights as well as regional specific brain deficits in neonatal pups. Recently, we and others reported reductions in the size of the posteromedial barrel subfield (PMBSF) in first somatosensory cortex (SI) associated with the representation of the large mystacial vibrissae in neonatal rats and mice that were exposed to alcohol at various times during gestation. While these reductions in barrel field size were reported in neonates, it was unclear whether similar reductions persisted later in life or whether some catch-up might take place in older animals. In the present study, we examined the effect of PAE on measures of barrel field size in juvenile (6 weeks of age) and adult (7 months of age) rats; body and brain weights were also measured. Pregnant rats (Sprague-Dawley) were intragastrically gavaged during gestational days 1-20 with alcohol (6 g/kg) to simulate a binge-like pattern of alcohol consumption (Alc); 6 g/kg alcohol produced blood alcohol levels ranging between 207.4 and 478.6 mg/dl. Chow-fed (CF), pair-fed (PF), and cross-foster (XF) groups served as normal, nutritional/stress, and maternal controls, respectively, for juvenile rats; an XF group was not included for adult rats. The major findings in the present study are (i) PAE significantly reduced the size of the total barrel field in Alc juvenile rats (13%) and adult rats (9%) compared to CF controls, (ii) PAE significantly reduced the total averaged sizes of individual PMBSF barrels in juvenile (14%) and adult (13%) rats, (iii) PAE did not significantly alter the septal area between barrels or the barrel pattern, (iv) PAE significantly reduced body weight of juvenile rats but only in comparison to PF controls (18%), (v) PAE significantly reduced whole brain (8%) and forebrain (7%) weights of juvenile rats but not adult rats, (vi) no differences were observed in forebrain/PMBSF body ratios nor was forebrain weight correlated with PMBSF area, and (vii) PAE resulted in a greater reduction in anterior barrels compared to posterior barrels. These results suggest that the effects of PAE previously reported in neonate PMBSF areas persist into adulthood.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alcohol exposure during development has been shown to alter a variety of social behaviors in both humans and rodents. Sexual behavior in rodents has been well characterized and lends itself to a detailed investigation of the manner in which ethanol impacts this particular social behavior.
Rats were exposed to ethanol during both the prenatal and early postnatal period (ET). Control groups included rats exposed to the administration procedures alone (intubated-control) and nontreated controls (NC). Sexual behavior of intact naïve female rats in estrus was assessed in adulthood (approximately postnatal day 90) and activity was measured by the number of crossings between chambers in the 3-chamber test apparatus. A separate study examined the olfactory preferences for 4 odors by intact naïve female rats in all 3 groups. The 4 odors were the odors resulting from 1 hour of occupation of the test chamber by an intact male, 1 hour of occupation of the test chamber by a gonadectomized male, 0.5 ml of urine from an intact male, and 0.5 ml of urine from a gonadectomized male.
ET female rats showed a reduced return latency after ejaculation compared to both control groups. There was a trend toward a reduction in percent exits after all forms of male behavior in the ET animals compared to the control groups. No significant differences across groups were seen in the lordosis quotient, activity, or the behavior of the nonexperimental male. ET female rats showed a reduced preference for the odor from the intact male compared to both control groups and a reduced preference for the odor from the gonadectomized male compared to NC females only.
These data suggest that ethanol exposure during the prenatal and postnatal period in females alters sexual motivation and changes the processing of olfactory cues and possibly coital cues from male rats.
Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 01/2008; 31(12):2065-72. DOI:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2007.00525.x · 3.21 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Developmental exposure to alcohol can produce characteristic physiological and cognitive deficits, often termed Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). More recently, social deficits have been shown to occur both in FASD and animal models of FASD; the behavioral and neural bases of these deficits remain to be determined. It was hypothesized that changes in sensory processing may in part underlie the social deficits seen in FASD. This study used a rat model of FASD and social play, a behavior critical to adult social functioning, to begin to examine this hypothesis. Somatosensory cues from dorsal contact to the nape of the neck, critical to the initiation of pinning, were systematically degraded by administration of different doses of xylocaine, a topical anesthetic. Neuronal activity after 1h of play was assessed by measurement of c-Fos immunoreactivity (IR) in different brain regions. Ethanol-exposed rats showed an increased frequency of pinning during social play and were more sensitive to the degradation of somatosensory cues compared to the control groups, suggesting difficulties in processing somatosensory cues. Neuronal activity in the somatosensory cortex induced by play was significantly decreased in the ethanol-exposed group compared to the non-treated group. The c-Fos IR in the nucleus accumbens was altered in a sexually dimorphic manner in the ethanol-exposed group. Thus, the behavioral and brain measures are consistent with the hypothesis that ethanol exposure during development induces alterations in social play via deficits in processing somatosensory cues that are important to social play.
Behavioural Brain Research 04/2008; 188(1):209-18. DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2007.10.028 · 3.03 Impact Factor
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