Adolescent binge-pattern alcohol exposure alters genome-wide DNA methylation patterns in the hypothalamus of alcohol-naive male offspring.
ABSTRACT: Teenage binge drinking is a major health concern in the United States, with 21% of teenagers reporting binge-pattern drinking behavior in the previous 30 days. Recently, our lab showed that alcohol-naïve offspring of rats exposed to alcohol during adolescence exhibited altered gene expression profiles in the hypothalamus, a brain region involved in stress regulation. We employed Enhanced Reduced Representation Bisulfite Sequencing as an unbiased approach to test the hypothesis that parental exposure to binge-pattern alcohol during adolescence alters DNA methylation profiles in their alcohol-naïve offspring. Wistar rats were administered a repeated binge-ethanol exposure paradigm during early (postnatal day (PND) 37-44) and late (PND 67-74) adolescent development. Animals were mated 24 h after the last ethanol dose and subsequent offspring were produced. Analysis of male PND7 offspring revealed that offspring of alcohol-exposed parents exhibited differential DNA methylation patterns in the hypothalamus. The differentially methylated cytosines (DMCs) were distinct between offspring depending on which parent was exposed to ethanol. Moreover, novel DMCs were observed when both parents were exposed to ethanol and many DMCs from single parent ethanol exposure were not recapitulated with dual parent exposure. We also measured mRNA expression of several differentially methylated genes and some, but not all, showed correlative changes in expression. Importantly, methylation was not a direct predictor of expression levels, underscoring the complexity of transcriptional regulation. Overall, we demonstrate that adolescent binge ethanol exposure causes altered genome-wide DNA methylation patterns in the hypothalamus of alcohol-naïve offspring.
Project description:We and others previously reported that paternal preconception chronic ethanol exposure leads to molecular, physiological, and behavioral changes in offspring including reduced ethanol consumption and preference relative to controls. The goal of the present study was to further explore the impact of paternal ethanol exposure on a wide variety of basal and drug-induced behavioral responses in first generation offspring. Adult male mice were exposed to chronic intermittent vapor ethanol or control conditions for 5-6 weeks before being mated with ethanol-naïve females to produce ethanol (E)- and control (C)-sired offspring. E-sired male offspring showed stress hyporesponsivity in a stress-induced hyperthermia assay and E-sired female offspring had reduced binge-like ethanol consumption in a drinking in the dark assay compared to C-sired offspring. E-sired offspring also showed altered sensitivity to a sedative/hypnotic dose of the GABAergic drug midazolam, but not ketamine or ethanol, in a loss of the righting response assay. E-sired offspring did not differ from controls in marble burying, novel object location, novel object recognition, social interaction, bottle-brush, novelty suppressed feeding, prepulse inhibition, every-other-day ethanol drinking, or home cage activity assays. This study adds to a growing body of literature suggesting that like in utero alcohol exposure, paternal preconception alcohol exposure can also have effects that persist and impact behavior of offspring.
Project description:Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is heritable, but the genetic basis for this disease remains poorly understood. Although numerous gene variants have been associated with AUD, these variants account for only a small fraction of the total risk. The idea of inheritance of acquired characteristics, i.e. "epigenetic inheritance," is re-emerging as a proven adjunct to traditional modes of genetic inheritance. We hypothesized that alcohol drinking and neurobiological sensitivity to alcohol are influenced by ancestral alcohol exposure. To test this hypothesis, we exposed male mice to chronic vapor ethanol or control conditions, mated them to ethanol-naïve females, and tested adult offspring for ethanol drinking, ethanol-induced behaviors, gene expression, and DNA methylation. We found that ethanol-sired male offspring had reduced ethanol preference and consumption, enhanced sensitivity to the anxiolytic and motor-enhancing effects of ethanol, and increased Bdnf expression in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) compared to control-sired male offspring. There were no differences among ethanol- and control-sired female offspring on these assays. Ethanol exposure also decreased DNA methylation at the BdnfÆpromoter of sire's germ cells and hypomethylation was maintained in the VTA of both male and female ethanol-sired offspring. Our findings show that paternal alcohol exposure is a previously unrecognized regulator of alcohol drinking and behavioral sensitivity to alcohol in male, but not female, offspring. Paternal alcohol exposure also induces epigenetic alterations (DNA hypomethylation) and gene expression changes that persist in the VTA of offspring. These results provide new insight into the inheritance and development of alcohol drinking behaviors.
Project description:Adolescent binge alcohol exposure has long-lasting effects on the expression of hypothalamic genes that regulate the stress response, even in the absence of subsequent adult alcohol exposure. This suggests that alcohol can induce permanent gene expression changes, potentially through epigenetic modifications to specific genes. Epigenetic modifications can be transmitted to future generations therefore, and in these studies we investigated the effects of adolescent binge alcohol exposure on hypothalamic gene expression patterns in the F1 generation offspring. It has been well documented that maternal alcohol exposure during fetal development can have devastating neurological consequences. However, less is known about the consequences of maternal and/or paternal alcohol exposure outside of the gestational time frame. Here, we exposed adolescent male and female rats to a repeated binge EtOH exposure paradigm and then mated them in adulthood. Hypothalamic samples were taken from the offspring of these animals at postnatal day (PND) 7 and subjected to a genome-wide microarray analysis followed by qRT-PCR for selected genes. Importantly, the parents were not intoxicated at the time of mating and were not exposed to EtOH at any time during gestation therefore the offspring were never directly exposed to EtOH. Our results showed that the offspring of alcohol-exposed parents had significant differences compared to offspring from alcohol-naïve parents. Specifically, major differences were observed in the expression of genes that mediate neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity during neurodevelopment, genes important for directing chromatin remodeling, posttranslational modifications or transcription regulation, as well as genes involved in regulation of obesity and reproductive function. These data demonstrate that repeated binge alcohol exposure during pubertal development can potentially have detrimental effects on future offspring even in the absence of direct fetal alcohol exposure.
Project description:Adolescent binge alcohol exposure has been previously shown to have long-lasting effects on the expression of hypothalamic genes that regulate the stress response, even in the absence of subsequent adult alcohol exposure. Those data suggested that alcohol can induce permanent gene expression changes, potentially through epigenetic modifications. Importantly, epigenetic modifications can be transmitted to future generations therefore, in these studies we investigated the effects of adolescent binge alcohol exposure on hypothalamic gene expression patterns in the F1 generation offspring. It has been well documented that maternal alcohol exposure during fetal development can have devastating neurological consequences. However, less is known about the consequences of maternal and/or paternal alcohol exposure outside of the gestational time frame. Here, we exposed adolescent male and female rats to a repeated binge EtOH exposure paradigm and then mated them in adulthood. Hypothalamic samples were taken from the offspring of these animals at postnatal day (PND) 7 and subjected to a genome-wide microarray analysis followed by qRT-PCR for selected genes. Importantly, the parents were not intoxicated at the time of mating and were not exposed to EtOH at any time during gestation therefore, the offspring were never directly exposed to EtOH. Our results showed that the offspring of alcohol-exposed parents had significant differences in the expression of hypothalamic genes that mediate neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity during neurodevelopment, genes important for directing chromatin remodeling, posttranslational modifications or transcription regulation, as well as genes involved in regulation of obesity and reproductive function. These data demonstrate that repeated binge alcohol exposure during pubertal development can potentially have detrimental effects on future offspring even in the absence of direct fetal alcohol exposure. Male and female Wistar rats were purchased from Charles River Laboratories (Wilmington, MA) at weaning (postnatal day (PND) 23) and allowed to acclimate for 7 days after arrival. Animals were handled for 5 min./once/day beginning at PND 30. Pubertal EtOH exposure began on PND 37, which is defined as peri-puberty. Animals were undisturbed following the first exposure of our binge EtOH exposure paradigm until PND 68 (late puberty/early adult) at which time they received a second exposure to the same treatment paradigm. During the duration of the experiment, males and females were separately housed in pairs on a 12:12 light/dark cycle with lights on at 0700 h with food and water available ad libitum. Binge Exposure Paradigm and Treatment Design. Rats were handled 5min./once/day for 7 d prior to treatment to control for nonspecific stress responses. At 37 d, animals were given 3 g/kg EtOH (20% v/v in tap water; N = 3/sex), or tap water alone (N = 3/sex), once/day via oral gavage at 10:00 AM to avoid disrupting normal feeding patterns. This process was repeated according to the following schedule for a total duration of 8 consecutive days: 3 d EtOH, 2 d tap water, 3 d EtOH. Control animals were given tap water alone once/day for 8 consecutive days. Our previous studies showed that this repeated binge-pattern EtOH paradigm does not affect body weight/growth curves and consistently results in blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of 150-180 mg/dl in males and 210-240 mg/dl in females. We and others have previously used this paradigm as a model for the pattern of binge alcohol consumption observed in adolescents and BAC achieved are similar to those observed in humans following a binge drinking episode . After peri-pubertal treatments, animals were left undisturbed in their home cage until PND 68 when each group was again exposed to their respective treatment (i.e. control or binge EtOH. We waited 24 hours after the last dose of EtOH to ensure that blood alcohol concentrations in the parents were undetectable at the time of mating (data not shown). Animals were grouped into mating pairs: binge male + binge female (N = 3 pairs); water male + water female (N = 3 pairs). All of the females gave birth to 12-16 pups approximately 28 d after being housed with a male, indicating that conception took place approximately 6 d after pairing; therefore, the pups were never directly exposed to alcohol at any time. At PND 7 pups were deeply anesthetized on ice and sacrificed. Brains were rapidly removed, the hypothalamus microdissected on ice, and then stored in -80ºC until further processing for a genome-wide analysis on hypothalamic total RNA samples using a chip-based microarray (Southern California Genotyping Consortium, SCGC, Illumina Rat Ref-12). The PND 7 time point was chosen because the extent of rat neurodevelopment at PND 7 is roughly equivalent to that of a human infant at birth
Project description:Adolescent alcohol use may interfere with neurodevelopment, increasing the likelihood of adult alcohol use disorders (AUDs). We investigated whether adolescent intermittent ethanol (AIE) exposure alters the adult reward response to ethanol. Adolescent rats were administered ethanol once (moderate exposure; Cohort 1) or three times per day (severe exposure; Cohort 2) in a 2 days on/2 days off pattern. In adulthood, subjects responded for electrical stimulation directed at the posterior lateral hypothalamus in a discrete-trial intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) procedure that provides current-intensity thresholds as a measure of brain reward function. The effects of ethanol administration and withdrawal were assessed. Control rats showed dose-dependent threshold elevations after acute ethanol, indicating reward deficits. A majority of moderately AIE-exposed rats (Cohort 1) showed threshold lowering after ethanol, suggesting ethanol-induced reward enhancement in this sub-set of rats. Rats exposed to severe AIE (Cohort 2) showed no threshold elevation or lowering, suggesting a blunted affective ethanol response. Daily ethanol induced threshold elevations 24h after administration in control rats but not in either group of AIE-exposed rats, suggesting decreased sensitivity to the negative affective state of ethanol withdrawal. Withdrawal from a 4-day ethanol binge produced robust and enduring threshold elevations in all rats, although threshold elevations were diminished in rats exposed to severe AIE. These results indicate that AIE exposure diminished reward deficits associated with ethanol intoxication and withdrawal and may have increased ethanol-induced reward enhancement in a sub-set of rats. In humans, enhanced ethanol reward accompanied by reduced withdrawal severity may contribute to the development of AUDs.
Project description:Binge ethanol drinking is a highly pervasive and destructive behavior yet the underlying neurobiological mechanisms remain poorly understood. Recent work suggests that overlapping neurobiological mechanisms modulate feeding disorders and excessive ethanol intake, and converging evidence indicates that the melanocortin (MC) system may be a promising candidate. The aims of the present work were to examine how repeated binge-like ethanol drinking, using the 'drinking in the dark' (DID) protocol, impacts key peptides within the MC system and if site-specific manipulation of MC receptor (MCR) signaling modulates binge-like ethanol drinking. Male C57BL/6J mice were exposed to one, three or six cycles of binge-like ethanol, sucrose or water drinking, after which brain tissue was processed via immunohistochemistry (IHC) for analysis of key MC peptides, including alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (?-MSH) and agouti-related protein (AgRP). Results indicated that ?-MSH expression was selectively decreased, while AgRP expression was selectively increased, within specific hypothalamic subregions following repeated binge-like ethanol drinking. To further explore this relationship, we used site-directed drug delivery techniques to agonize or antagonize MCRs within the lateral hypothalamus (LH). We found that the nonselective MCR agonist melanotan-II (MTII) blunted, while the nonselective MCR antagonist AgRP augmented, binge-like ethanol consumption when delivered into the LH. As these effects were region-specific, the present results suggest that a more thorough understanding of the MC neurocircuitry within the hypothalamus will help provide novel insight into the mechanisms that modulate excessive binge-like ethanol intake and may help uncover new therapeutic targets aimed at treating alcohol abuse disorders.
Project description:Alcohol abuse is prevalent in adolescent humans, but the long-term behavioral consequences of binge alcohol drinking are unknown.This study investigated the long-term effects of adolescent intermittent ethanol (AIE) exposure on attention and impulsivity.Adolescent male rats were exposed to 5 g/kg of 25% (v/w) ethanol every 8 h for 4 days. During adulthood, rats were tested in the five-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT) assessing attention, impulsivity and cognitive flexibility.There was no metabolic tolerance to ethanol in adolescent rats during AIE exposure. In the 5-CSRTT under baseline conditions, there were no differences between AIE-exposed and control rats in accuracy, omissions, or premature responses, although AIE-exposed rats tended to make more timeout responses than control rats. The short-duration stimulus challenge decreased accuracy and increased omissions and timeout responses in both AIE-exposed and control rats. The long intertrial interval challenge increased premature responses in all rats. An ethanol challenge decreased correct responses, and increased omissions in control, but not in AIE-exposed, rats. Control, but not AIE-exposed, rats exhibited decreased premature and timeout responses after ethanol administration. Response latencies were not affected in AIE-exposed or control rats indicating no sedative effects of ethanol challenge.The results indicate that ethanol binge exposure during adolescence has long-lasting neurobehavioral consequences, which persist into adulthood and can be revealed after re-exposure to ethanol. AIE-induced diminished responses to the disruptive effects of ethanol on attention, impulsivity and cognitive flexibility may lead to increased alcohol drinking and other maladaptive behaviors in adulthood.
Project description:The adverse effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy are known, but the molecular events that lead to the phenotypic characteristics are unclear. To unravel the molecular mechanisms, we have used a mouse model of gestational ethanol exposure, which is based on maternal ad libitum ingestion of 10% (v/v) ethanol for the first 8 days of gestation (GD 0.5-8.5). Early neurulation takes place by the end of this period, which is equivalent to the developmental stage early in the fourth week post-fertilization in human. During this exposure period, dynamic epigenetic reprogramming takes place and the embryo is vulnerable to the effects of environmental factors. Thus, we hypothesize that early ethanol exposure disrupts the epigenetic reprogramming of the embryo, which leads to alterations in gene regulation and life-long changes in brain structure and function. Genome-wide analysis of gene expression in the mouse hippocampus revealed altered expression of 23 genes and three miRNAs in ethanol-exposed, adolescent offspring at postnatal day (P) 28. We confirmed this result by using two other tissues, where three candidate genes are known to express actively. Interestingly, we found a similar trend of upregulated gene expression in bone marrow and main olfactory epithelium. In addition, we observed altered DNA methylation in the CpG islands upstream of the candidate genes in the hippocampus. Our MRI study revealed asymmetry of brain structures in ethanol-exposed adult offspring (P60): we detected ethanol-induced enlargement of the left hippocampus and decreased volume of the left olfactory bulb. Our study indicates that ethanol exposure in early gestation can cause changes in DNA methylation, gene expression, and brain structure of offspring. Furthermore, the results support our hypothesis of early epigenetic origin of alcohol-induced disorders: changes in gene regulation may have already taken place in embryonic stem cells and therefore can be seen in different tissue types later in life.
Project description:Recent evidence indicated that alcohol exposure during the fetal period increases the susceptibility to tumor development in mammary and prostate tissues. Whether fetal alcohol exposure increases the susceptibility to prolactin-producing tumor (prolactinoma) development in the pituitary was studied by employing the animal model of estradiol-induced prolactinomas in Fischer 344 female rats. We employed an animal model of fetal alcohol exposure that simulates binge alcohol drinking during the first two trimesters of human pregnancy and involves feeding pregnant rats with a liquid diet containing 6.7% alcohol during gestational day 7 to day 21. Control rats were pair-fed with isocaloric liquid diet or fed ad libitum with rat chow diet. Adult alcohol exposed and control female offspring rats were used in this study on the day of estrus or after estrogen treatment. Results show that fetal alcohol-exposed rats had increased levels of pituitary weight, pituitary prolactin (PRL) protein and mRNA, and plasma PRL. However, these rats show decreased pituitary levels of dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) mRNA and protein and increased pituitary levels of D2R promoter methylation. Also, they show elevated pituitary mRNA levels of DNA methylating genes (DNMT1, DNMT3b, MeCP2) and histone modifying genes (HDAC2, HDAC4, G9a). When fetal alcohol exposed rats were treated neonatally with a DNA methylation inhibitor 5-Aza deoxycytidine and/or a HDAC inhibitor trichostatin-A their pituitary D2R mRNA, pituitary weights and plasma PRL levels were normalized. These data suggest that fetal alcohol exposure programs the pituitary to increase the susceptibility to the development of prolactinomas possibly by enhancing the methylation of the D2R gene promoter and repressing the synthesis and control of D2R on PRL-producing cells.
Project description:Methyl CpG Binding Protein 2 (MeCP2) is an important epigenetic factor in the brain. MeCP2 expression is affected by different environmental insults including alcohol exposure. Accumulating evidence supports the role of aberrant MeCP2 expression in ethanol exposure-induced neurological symptoms. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms of ethanol-induced MeCP2 deregulation remain elusive. To study the effect of ethanol on Mecp2/MeCP2 expression during neurodifferentiation, we established an in vitro model of ethanol exposure, using differentiating embryonic brain-derived neural stem cells (NSC). Previously, we demonstrated the impact of DNA methylation at the Mecp2 regulatory elements (REs) on Mecp2/MeCP2 expression in vitro and in vivo. Here, we studied whether altered DNA methylation at these REs is associated with the Mecp2/MeCP2 misexpression induced by ethanol. Binge-like and continuous ethanol exposure upregulated Mecp2/MeCP2, while ethanol withdrawal downregulated its expression. DNA methylation analysis by methylated DNA immunoprecipitation indicated that increased 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) and decreased 5-methylcytosine (5mC) enrichment at specific REs were associated with upregulated Mecp2/MeCP2 following continuous ethanol exposure. The reduced Mecp2/MeCP2 expression upon ethanol withdrawal was associated with reduced 5hmC and increased 5mC enrichment at these REs. Moreover, ethanol altered global DNA methylation (5mC and 5hmC). Under the tested conditions, ethanol had minimal effects on NSC cell fate commitment, but caused changes in neuronal morphology and glial cell size. Taken together, our data represent an epigenetic mechanism for ethanol-mediated misexpression of Mecp2/MeCP2 in differentiating embryonic brain cells. We also show the potential role of DNA methylation and MeCP2 in alcohol-related neurological disorders, specifically Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.