Genetic Influences on the Amount of Cell Death in the Neural Tube of BXD Mice Exposed to Acute Ethanol at Midgestation.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) have a strong genetic component although the genes that underlie this are only beginning to be elucidated. In the present study, one of the most common phenotypes of FASD, cell death within the early developing neural tube, was examined across a genetic reference population in a reverse genetics paradigm with the goal of identifying genetic loci that could influence ethanol (EtOH)-induced apoptosis in the early developing neural tube. METHODS:BXD recombinant inbred mice as well as the parental strains were used to evaluate genetic differences in EtOH-induced cell death after exposure on embryonic day 9.5. Dams were given either 5.8 g/kg EtOH or isocaloric maltose-dextrin in 2 doses via intragastric gavage. Embryos were collected 7 hours after the initial exposure and cell death evaluated via TUNEL staining in the brainstem and forebrain. Genetic loci were evaluated using quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis at GeneNetwork.org. RESULTS:Significant strain differences were observed in the levels of EtOH-induced cell death that were due to genetic effects and not confounding variables such as differences in developmental maturity or cell death kinetics. Comparisons between the 2 regions of the developing neural tube showed little genetic correlation with the QTL maps exhibiting no overlap. Significant QTLs were found on murine mid-chromosome 4 and mid-chromosome 14 only in the brainstem. Within these chromosomal loci, a number of interesting candidate genes were identified that could mediate this differential sensitivity including Nfia (nuclear factor I/A) and Otx2 (orthodenticle homeobox 2). CONCLUSIONS:These studies demonstrate that the levels of EtOH-induced cell death occur in strain- and region-dependent manners. Novel QTLs on mouse Chr4 and Chr14 were identified that modulate the differential sensitivity to EtOH-induced apoptosis in the embryonic brainstem. The genes underlying these QTLs could identify novel molecular pathways that are critical in this phenotype.
Project description:The term "fetal alcohol spectrum disorders" (FASD) defines the full range of ethanol (EtOH)-induced birth defects. Numerous variables influence the phenotypic outcomes of embryonic EtOH exposure. Among these variables, genetics appears to play an important role, yet our understanding of the genetic predisposition to FASD is still in its infancy. We review the current literature that relates to the genetics of FASD susceptibility and gene-EtOH interactions. Where possible, we comment on potential mechanisms of reported gene-EtOH interactions. Early indications of genetic sensitivity to FASD came from human and animal studies using twins or inbred strains, respectively. These analyses prompted searches for susceptibility loci involved in EtOH metabolism and analyses of candidate loci, based on phenotypes observed in FASD. More recently, genetic screens in animal models have provided an additional insight into the genetics of FASD. Understanding FASD requires that we understand the many factors influencing phenotypic outcome following embryonic EtOH exposure. We are gaining ground on understanding some of the genetics behind FASD, yet much work remains to be carried out. Coordinated analyses using human patients and animal models are likely to be highly fruitful in uncovering the genetics behind FASD.
Project description:Individual variation in sensitivity to acute ethanol (EtOH) challenge is associated with alcohol drinking and is a predictor of alcohol abuse. Previous studies have shown that the C57BL/6J (B6) and 129S1/SvImJ (S1) inbred mouse strains differ in responses on certain measures of acute EtOH intoxication. To gain insight into genetic factors contributing to these differences, we performed quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis of measures of EtOH-induced ataxia (accelerating rotarod), hypothermia, and loss of righting reflex (LORR) duration in a B6×S1 F2 population. We confirmed that S1 showed greater EtOH-induced hypothermia (specifically at a high dose) and longer LORR compared to B6. QTL analysis revealed several additive and interacting loci for various phenotypes, as well as examples of genotype interactions with sex. QTLs for different EtOH phenotypes were largely non-overlapping, suggesting separable genetic influences on these behaviors. The most compelling main-effect QTLs were for hypothermia on chromosome 16 and for LORR on chromosomes 4 and 6. Several QTLs overlapped with loci repeatedly linked to EtOH drinking in previous mouse studies. The architecture of the traits we examined was complex but clearly amenable to dissection in future studies. Using integrative genomics strategies, plausible functional and positional candidates may be found. Uncovering candidate genes associated with variation in these phenotypes in this population could ultimately shed light on genetic factors underlying sensitivity to EtOH intoxication and risk for alcoholism in humans.
Project description:Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are a highly variable set of phenotypes caused by fetal alcohol exposure. Numerous factors influence FASD phenotypes, including genetics. The zebrafish is a powerful vertebrate model system with which to identify these genetic factors. Many zebrafish mutants are housed at the Zebrafish International Resource Center (ZIRC). These mutants are readily accessible and an excellent source to screen for ethanol (EtOH)-sensitive developmental structural mutants.We screened mutants obtained from ZIRC for sensitivity to EtOH teratogenesis. Embryos were treated with 1% EtOH (41 mM tissue levels) from 6 hours postfertilization onward. Levels of apoptosis were evaluated at 24 hours postfertilization. At 4 days postfertilization, the craniofacial skeleton, peripheral axon projections, and sensory neurons of neuromasts were examined. Fish were genotyped to determine whether there were phenotype/genotype correlations.Five of 20 loci interacted with EtOH. Notable among these was that vangl2, involved in convergent extension movements of the embryonic axis, interacted strongly with EtOH. Untreated vangl2 mutants had normal craniofacial morphology, while severe midfacial defects including synophthalmia and narrowing of the palatal skeleton were found in all EtOH-treated mutants and a low percentage of heterozygotes. The cell cycle gene, plk1, also interacted strongly with EtOH. Untreated mutants have slightly elevated levels of apoptosis and loss of ventral craniofacial elements. Exposure to EtOH results in extensive apoptosis along with loss of neural tissue and the entire craniofacial skeleton. Phenotypes of hinfp, mars, and foxi1 mutants were also exacerbated by EtOH.Our results provide insight into the gene-EtOH interactions that may underlie EtOH teratogenesis. They support previous findings that EtOH disrupts elongation of the embryonic axis. Importantly, these results show that the zebrafish is an efficient model with which to test for gene-EtOH interactions. Understanding these interactions will be crucial to understanding of the FASD variation.
Project description:Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) constitute a wide range of disorders that arise from prenatal exposure to ethanol (EtOH). However, detailed reports regarding the adverse effects of prenatal EtOH exposure on neocortical morphology and its underlying pathogenic mechanisms are limited. In the present study, we aimed to characterize the anatomical abnormalities of neocortical development and their correlation with microglial properties and neuro-inflammation in a mouse model of FASD. We evaluated the development and maturation of the neocortex in ICR mice prenatally exposed to 25% (w/v) EtOH using histological and molecular analyses. Reduced proliferation and excessive cell death were observed in the dorsal telencephalon. Abnormal neuronal distribution, layer formation, and dopaminergic neuronal projections were observed in the neocortex. Disruption of microglial differentiation (M1/M2 microglial ratio) and abnormal expression of pro-inflammatory and neurotrophic factors were induced, and these abnormalities were ameliorated by co-treatment with an anti-inflammatory drug (pioglitazone). FASD model mice displayed histological abnormalities, microglial abnormalities, and neuro-inflammation in both the embryonic and newborn stages. Thus, anti-inflammatory therapeutics may provide a novel preventive approach for the treatment of FASD.
Project description:Ingestion of ethanol (ETOH) during pregnancy induces grave abnormalities in developing fetal brain. We have previously reported that ETOH induces programmed cell death 4 (PDCD4), a critical regulator of cell growth, in cultured fetal cerebral cortical neurons (PCNs) and in the cerebral cortex in vivo and affect protein synthesis as observed in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). However, the mechanism which activates PDCD4 in neuronal systems is unclear and understanding this regulation may provide a counteractive strategy to correct the protein synthesis associated developmental changes seen in FASD. The present study investigates the molecular mechanism by which ethanol regulates PDCD4 in cortical neuroblasts, the immediate precursor of neurons. ETOH treatment significantly increased PDCD4 protein and transcript expression in spontaneously immortalized rat brain neuroblasts. Since PDCD4 is regulated at both the post-translational and post-transcriptional level, we assessed ETOH's effect on PDCD4 protein and mRNA stability. Chase experiments demonstrated that ETOH does not significantly impact either PDCD4 protein or mRNA stabilization. PDCD4 promoter-reporter assays confirmed that PDCD4 is transcriptionally regulated by ETOH in neuroblasts. Given a critical role of glycogen synthase kinase 3? (GSK-3?) signaling in regulating protein synthesis and neurotoxic mechanisms, we investigated the involvement of GSK-3? and showed that multifunctional GSK-3? was significantly activated in response to ETOH in neuroblasts. In addition, we found that ETOH-induced activation of PDCD4 was inhibited by pharmacologic blockade of GSK-3? using inhibitors, lithium chloride (LiCl) and SB-216763 or siRNA mediated silencing of GSK-3?. These results suggest that ethanol transcriptionally upregulates PDCD4 by enhancing GSK-3? signaling in cortical neuroblasts. Further, we demonstrate that canonical Wnt-3a/GSK-3? signaling is involved in regulating PDCD4 protein expression. Altogether, we provide evidence that GSK-3?/PDCD4 network may represent a critical modulatory point to manage the protein synthetic anomalies and growth aberrations of neural cells seen in FASD.
Project description:Maternal alcohol abuse leading to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) includes fetal growth restriction (FGR). Ethanol (EtOH) induces apoptosis of human placental trophoblast cells, possibly disrupting placentation and contributing to FGR in FASD. EtOH facilitates apoptosis in several embryonic tissues, including human trophoblasts, by raising intracellular Ca2+ . We previously found that acute EtOH exposure increases trophoblast apoptosis due to signaling from both intracellular and extracellular Ca2+ . Therefore, nifedipine, a Ca2+ channel blocker that is commonly administered to treat preeclampsia and preterm labor, was evaluated for cytoprotective properties in trophoblast cells exposed to alcohol.Human first-trimester chorionic villous explants and the human trophoblast cell line HTR-8/SVneo (HTR) were pretreated with 12.5 to 50 nM of the Ca2+ channel blocker nifedipine for 1 hour before exposure to 50 mM EtOH for an additional hour. Intracellular Ca2+ concentrations were monitored in real time by epifluorescence microscopy, using fluo-4-AM. Apoptosis was assessed by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL), accumulation of cytoplasmic cytochrome c, and cleavage rates of caspase 3 and caspase 9.The increase in intracellular Ca2+ upon exposure to EtOH in both villous explants and HTR cells was completely blocked (p < 0.05) when pretreated with nifedipine, accompanied by inhibition of EtOH-induced release of cytochrome c, caspase activities, and TUNEL.This study indicates that nifedipine can interrupt the apoptotic pathway downstream of EtOH exposure and could provide a novel strategy for future interventions in women with fetuses at risk for FASD.
Project description:Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are a leading cause of neurodevelopmental disability. The mechanisms underlying FASD are incompletely understood, and biomarkers to identify those at risk are lacking. Here, we perform metabolomic analysis of embryoid bodies and neural lineages derived from human embryonic stem (hES) cells to identify the neural secretome produced in response to ethanol (EtOH) exposure.WA01 and WA09 hES cells were differentiated into embryoid bodies, neural progenitors, or neurons. Cells along this progression were cultured for 4 days with 0, 0.1, or 0.3% EtOH. Supernatants were subjected to C18 chromatography followed by ESI-QTOF-MS. Features were annotated using public databases, and the identities of 4 putative biomarkers were confirmed with purified standards and comparative MS/MS.EtOH treatment induced statistically significant changes to metabolite abundance in human embryoid bodies (180 features), neural progenitors (76 features), and neurons (42 features). There were no shared significant features between different cell types. Fifteen features showed a dose-response to EtOH. Four chemical identities were confirmed: L-thyroxine, 5'-methylthioadenosine, and the tryptophan metabolites, L-kynurenine and indoleacetaldehyde. One feature with a putative annotation of succinyladenosine was significantly increased in both EtOH treatments. Additional features were selective to EtOH treatment but were not annotated in public databases.EtOH exposure induces statistically significant changes to the metabolome profile of human embryoid bodies, neural progenitors, and neurons. Several of these metabolites are normally present in human serum, suggesting their usefulness as potential serum FASD biomarkers. These findings suggest the biochemical pathways that are affected by EtOH in the developing nervous system and delineate mechanisms of alcohol injury during human development.
Project description:Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), caused by gestational ethanol (EtOH) exposure, is one of the most common causes of non-heritable and life-long mental disability worldwide, with no standard treatment or therapy available. While EtOH exposure can alter the function of both neurons and glia, it is still unclear how EtOH influences brain development to cause deficits in sensory and cognitive processing later in life. Microglia play an important role in shaping synaptic function and plasticity during neural circuit development and have been shown to mount an acute immunological response to EtOH exposure in certain brain regions. Therefore, we hypothesized that microglial roles in the healthy brain could be permanently altered by early EtOH exposure leading to deficits in experience-dependent plasticity. We used a mouse model of human third trimester high binge EtOH exposure, administering EtOH twice daily by subcutaneous injections from postnatal day 4 through postnatal day 9 (P4-:P9). Using a monocular deprivation model to assess ocular dominance plasticity, we found an EtOH-induced deficit in this type of visually driven experience-dependent plasticity. However, using a combination of immunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy, and in vivo two-photon microscopy to assay microglial morphology and dynamics, as well as fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) and RNA-seq to examine the microglial transcriptome, we found no evidence of microglial dysfunction in early adolescence. We also found no evidence of microglial activation in visual cortex acutely after early ethanol exposure, possibly because we also did not observe EtOH-induced neuronal cell death in this brain region. We conclude that early EtOH exposure caused a deficit in experience-dependent synaptic plasticity in the visual cortex that was independent of changes in microglial phenotype or function. This demonstrates that neural plasticity can remain impaired by developmental ethanol exposure even in a brain region where microglia do not acutely assume nor maintain an activated phenotype.
Project description:In utero alcohol, or ethanol (EtOH), exposure produces developmental abnormalities in the brain of the fetus, which can result in lifelong behavioral abnormalities. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) is a term used to describe a range of adverse developmental conditions caused by EtOH exposure during gestation. Children diagnosed with FASD potentially exhibit a host of phenotypes including growth retardation, facial dysmorphology, central nervous system anomalies, abnormal behavior, and cognitive deficits. Previous research suggests that abnormal gene expression and circuitry in the neocortex may underlie reported disabilities of learning, memory, and behavior resulting from early exposure to alcohol (J Neurosci, 33, 2013, 18893).Here, we utilize a mouse model of FASD to examine effects of prenatal EtOH exposure (PrEE), on brain anatomy in newborn (postnatal day [P]0), weanling (P20), and early adult (P50) mice. We correlate abnormal cortical and subcortical anatomy with atypical behavior in adult P50 PrEE mice. In this model, experimental dams self-administered a 25% EtOH solution throughout gestation (gestational days 0 to 19, day of birth), generating the exposure to the offspring.Results from these experiments reveal long-term alterations to cortical anatomy, including atypical developmental cortical thinning, and abnormal subcortical development as a result of in utero EtOH exposure. Furthermore, offspring exposed to EtOH during the prenatal period performed poorly on behavioral tasks measuring sensorimotor integration and anxiety.Insight from this study will help provide new information on developmental trajectories of PrEE and the biological etiologies of abnormal behavior in people diagnosed with FASD.
Project description:Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is characterized by neurodevelopmental anomalies manifesting in cognitive and behavioral deficits in the offspring with diverse severities. Social behavior is affected in FASD, and these deficits overlap with those of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Identifying some of the molecular characteristics related to ASD in an animal model of FASD could ultimately provide details on the underlying molecular mechanisms of both disorders that could lead to novel treatments.Pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats received the following diets: control (C; ad libitum standard laboratory chow), nutritional control pair-fed (PF), ethanol (EtOH), or an EtOH diet supplemented with 0.3, 1.5, or 7.5 mg thyroxine (T4)/l in the diet. Social behavior and memory were tested in the adult offspring. Plasma total T4, free T3 (fT3), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels were measured. Hippocampal expression of Gabrb3, Ube3a, Nr2b, Rasgrf1, and Dio3 were measured by RT-qPCR and protein levels of Mecp2 and Slc25a12 by Western blotting.Adult male offspring of EtOH dams showed elevated fT3 and low TSH levels. Adult male, but not female, offspring of EtOH dams exhibited social behavior and memory deficits. Expression of autism candidates, Gabrb3, Ube3a, Mecp2, and Slc25a12, was significantly increased in the hippocampus of male offspring of EtOH dams. Hippocampal Nr2b and Dio3 were also increased, while Rasgrf1 was decreased in the same population. Peripheral thyroid function, social behavioral deficits, and altered expression of the above genes were normalized by simultaneous administration of 0.3 mg/l T4 in the EtOH diet.Our data suggest that social interaction deficits of FASD share molecular mechanism with ASD by showing altered hippocampal expression of several ASD candidate genes. Social interaction deficits as well as the gene expression changes in the offspring of EtOH-consuming dams can be reversed by low dose of thyroid hormone supplementation to the mothers.