Moderate prenatal alcohol exposure alters behavior and neuroglial parameters in adolescent rats

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Brolese, Giovana
Lunardi, Paula
Broetto, Nubia
Engelke, Douglas S. [UNIFESP]
Lirio, Franciane
Batassini, Cristiane
Carolina Tramontina, Ana
Goncalves, Carlos-Alberto
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Alcohol consumption by women during gestation has become increasingly common. Although it is widely accepted that exposure to high doses of ethanol has long-lasting detrimental effects on brain development, the case for moderate doses is underappreciated, and benchmark studies have demonstrated structural and behavioral defects associated with moderate prenatal alcohol exposure in humans and animal models. This study aimed to investigate the influence of in utero exposure to moderate levels of ethanol throughout pregnancy on learning/memory, anxiety parameters and neuroglial parameters in adolescent offspring. Female rats were exposed to an experimental protocol throughout gestation up to weaning. After mating, the dams were divided into three groups and treated with only water (control), non-alcoholic beer (vehicle) or 10% (vv) beer solution (moderate prenatal alcohol exposure - MPAE). Adolescent male offspring were subjected to the plus-maze discriminative avoidance task to evaluate learning/memory and anxiety-like behavior. Hippocampi were dissected and slices were obtained for immunoquantification of GFAP, NeuN, S100B and the NMDA receptor. the MPAE group clearly presented anxiolytic-like behavior, even though they had learned how to avoid the aversive arm. S100B protein was increased in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the group treated with alcohol, and alterations in GFAP expression were also shown. This study indicates that moderate ethanol doses administered during pregnancy could induce anxiolytic-like effects, suggesting an increase in risk-taking behavior in adolescent male offspring. Furthermore, the data show the possibility that glial cells are involved in the altered behavior present after prenatal ethanol treatment. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Behavioural Brain Research. Amsterdam: Elsevier B.V., v. 269, p. 175-184, 2014.