Epigenetic Effects of Parental Alcohol Consumption

Goal: Exploring the effects of chronic parental alcohol exposure on offspring prior to fertilization.

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Benjamin Tsang
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Alcoholism and alcohol abuse represent a significant medical and societal problem, and have been thoroughly investigated in humans as well as using animal models. A less well understood aspect of alcohol related disorders is the possible effect of this drug on offspring whose parents were exposed prior to conception. The zebrafish has been successfully employed in alcohol research, however, the effect of exposing the parents to alcohol before fertilization of the eggs on offspring has not been demonstrated in this species. In this proof of concept study, we attempt to address this hiatus. We exposed both adult male and female zebrafish to 0.0% (control) or 0.5% (vol/vol) alcohol chronically for 7 days, subsequently bred the fish within their respective treatment group, collected the fertilized eggs, allowed them to develop, and tested the behavior of free-swimming offspring at their age of 7 days post-fertilization. We conducted the analysis in two genetically distinct quasi-inbred strains of zebrafish, AB and TL. Although gross morphology and general activity of the fish appeared unaffected, we found significant behavioral alterations in offspring of alcohol exposed parents compared to offspring of control parents in both strains. These alterations included robustly increased duration and reduced frequency of immobility, increased turn angle, and increased intra-individual variance of turn angle in offspring of alcohol exposed parents in both strains. The mechanisms underlying these behavioral effects or whether the effects are due to exposure of the father, the mother, or both to alcohol are unknown. Nevertheless, our results now set the stage for future studies with zebrafish that will address these questions.
Shankeerth Suresh
added a project goal
Exploring the effects of chronic parental alcohol exposure on offspring prior to fertilization.