Ethanol exposure affects gene expression in the embryonic organizer and reduces retinoic acid levels.

Department of Cellular Biochemistry and Human Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, Hebrew University, POB 12272, Jerusalem 91120, Israel.
Developmental Biology (Impact Factor: 3.64). 04/2005; 279(1):193-204. DOI: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2004.12.014
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a set of developmental malformations caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), the strongest manifestation of FASD, results in short stature, microcephally and facial dysmorphogenesis including microphthalmia. Using Xenopus embryos as a model developmental system, we show that ethanol exposure recapitulates many aspects of FAS, including a shortened rostro-caudal axis, microcephally and microphthalmia. Temporal analysis revealed that Xenopus embryos are most sensitive to ethanol exposure between late blastula and early/mid gastrula stages. This window of sensitivity overlaps with the formation and early function of the embryonic organizer, Spemann's organizer. Molecular analysis revealed that ethanol exposure of embryos induces changes in the domains and levels of organizer-specific gene expression, identifying Spemann's organizer as an early target of ethanol. Ethanol also induces a defect in convergent extension movements that delays gastrulation movements and may affect the overall length. We show that mechanistically, ethanol is antagonistic to retinol (Vitamin A) and retinal conversion to retinoic acid, and that the organizer is active in retinoic acid signaling during early gastrulation. The model suggests that FASD is induced in part by an ethanol-dependent reduction in retinoic acid levels that are necessary for the normal function of Spemann's organizer.

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    ABSTRACT: Ethanol exposure during development causes an array of developmental abnormalities, both physiological and behavioral. In mammals, these abnormalities are collectively known as Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). We have established a Drosophila melanogaster model of FASD, and have previously shown that developmental ethanol exposure in flies leads to reduced expression of insulin like peptides (dILPs) and their receptor. In this work, we link that observation to dysregulation of fatty acid metabolism and lipid accumulation. Further, we show that developmental ethanol exposure in Drosophila causes oxidative stress, that this stress is a primary cause of the developmental lethality and delay associated with ethanol exposure, and, finally, that one of the mechanisms by which ethanol increases oxidative stress is through abnormal fatty acid metabolism. These data suggest a previously uncharacterized mechanism by which ethanol causes the symptoms associated with FASD.
    G3-Genes Genomes Genetics 11/2014; DOI:10.1534/g3.114.015040 · 2.51 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is caused by prenatal alcohol exposure, producing craniofacial, sensory, motor, and cognitive defects. FASD is highly prevalent in low socioeconomic populations, which are frequently accompanied by malnutrition. FASDassociated ocular pathologies include microphthalmia, optic nerve hypoplasia, and cataracts. The present study characterizes specific retinal tissue defects, identifies ethanol-sensitive stages during retinal development, and dissects the effect of nutrient supplements, such as retinoic acid (RA) and folic acid (FA) on ethanol-induced retinal defects. Exposure to pathophysiological concentrations of ethanol (during midblastula transition through somitogenesis; 2–24 hours post fertilization [hpf]) altered critical transcription factor expression involved in retinal cell differentiation, and produced severe retinal ganglion cell, photoreceptor, and Müller glial differentiation defects. Ethanol exposure did not alter retinal cell differentiation induction, but increased retinal cell death and proliferation. RA and FA nutrient co-supplementation rescued retinal photoreceptor and ganglion cell differentiation defects. Ethanol exposure during retinal morphogenesis stages (16–24 hpf) produced retinal defects like those seen with ethanol exposure between 2–24 hpf. Significantly, during an ethanol-sensitive time window (16–24 hpf), RA cosupplementation moderately rescued these defects, whereas FA co-supplementation showed significant rescue of optic nerve and photoreceptor differentiation defects. Interestingly, RA, but not FA, supplementation after ethanol exposure could reverse ethanol-induced optic nerve and photoreceptor differentiation defects. Our results indicate that various ethanol-sensitive events underlie FASD-associated retinal defects. Nutrient supplements like retinoids and folate were effective in alleviating ethanol-induced retinal defects.
    Alcohol 11/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.alcohol.2014.11.001 · 2.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Prenatal alcohol exposure produces a multitude of detrimental alcohol-induced defects in children collectively known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Children with FASD often exhibit delayed or abnormal mental, neural, and physical growth. Socioeconomic status, race, genetics, parity, gravidity, age, smoking, and alcohol consumption patterns are all factors that may influence FASD. Optimal maternal nutritional status is of utmost importance for proper fetal development, yet is often altered with alcohol consumption. It is critical to determine a means to resolve and reduce the physical and neurological malformations that develop in the fetus as a result of prenatal alcohol exposure. Because there is a lack of information on the role of nutrients and prenatal nutrition interventions for FASD, the focus of this review is to provide an overview of nutrients (vitamin A, docosahexaenoic acid, folic acid, zinc, choline, vitamin E, and selenium) that may prevent or alleviate the development of FASD. Results from various nutrient supplementation studies in animal models and FASD-related research conducted in humans provide insight into the plausibility of prenatal nutrition interventions for FASD. Further research is necessary to confirm positive results, to determine optimal amounts of nutrients needed in supplementation, and to investigate the collective effects of multiple-nutrient supplementation.
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