Alterations in hippocampal and hypothalamic monoaminergic neurotransmitter systems after alcohol exposure during all three trimester equivalents in adult rats
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Animal models of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) often rely on exposing the developing organism to alcohol during either the prenatal or postnatal period only. Very few studies have examined brain changes resulting from alcohol exposure during both the prenatal and postnatal period, a period which is equivalent to all three trimesters in humans. In this study, we examined the effects of alcohol exposure during this prolonged period of neural development on hippocampal and hypothalamic neurotransmitters in the rat. Pregnant dams were intubated with alcohol from gestational day (GD) 1 to GD 22 and then their pups were intubated with alcohol from postnatal day (PD) 2 to PD 10. Alcohol-exposed rats of both sexes exhibited increased hippocampal noradrenaline (NE) concentration compared to intubated and nontreated control animals. Within the hypothalamus, alcohol-exposed females but not males exhibited increased NE concentration. Hypothalamic serotonin (5-HT) concentration was reduced in both alcohol-exposed and intubated-control rats compared to nontreated controls. The results suggest that both the hippocampal and hypothalamic NE systems are especially vulnerable to alcohol insult that occurs during a period of neural development that corresponds to the full human prenatal period.
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