, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 189-199

A neuroprotective peptide antagonizes fetal alcohol exposure-compromised brain growth

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We evaluated a 9-amino-acid peptide, SALLRSIPA (SAL), an agonist of activity-dependent neurotrophic factor (ADNF), for its protective properties against fetal alcohol-related brain growth retardation, using an established liquid diet model of alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND) in C57BL/6 mice. Alcohol exposure during neurulation reduced body weight, head size, and specifically brain weight and volume. Major gross brain deficits include underdevelopment of brain areas, cortical thinning, ventricle enlargement, and restricted midline neural tissue growth leading to openings at the roof/floor plate. SALLRSIPA (SAL) treatment increased fetal body weight and restored brain weight, brain volume, and regional brain size. Furthermore, SAL restored cortical thickness, reduced the size and frequency of neural tube openings, and attenuated ventricular enlargement. The ability of SAL to antagonize alcohol-retarded brain growth and development of forebrain and midline neural tube at midgestation suggests its potential use as an antagonist against fetal alcohol-rendered microencephaly early in development.