Hippocampal transcriptome reveals novel targets of FASD pathogenesis. Academic Article uri icon


  • INTRODUCTION: Prenatal alcohol exposure can contribute to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), characterized by a myriad of developmental impairments affecting behavior and cognition. Studies show that many of these functional impairments are associated with the hippocampus, a structure exhibiting exquisite vulnerability to developmental alcohol exposure and critically implicated in learning and memory; however, mechanisms underlying alcohol-induced hippocampal deficits remain poorly understood. By utilizing a high-throughput RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) approach to address the neurobiological and molecular basis of prenatal alcohol-induced hippocampal functional deficits, we hypothesized that chronic binge prenatal alcohol exposure alters gene expression and global molecular pathways in the fetal hippocampus. METHODS: Timed-pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to a pair-fed control (PF) or binge alcohol (ALC) treatment group on gestational day (GD) 4. ALC dams acclimatized from GDs 5-10 with a daily treatment of 4.5 g/kg alcohol and subsequently received 6 g/kg on GDs 11-20. PF dams received a once daily maltose dextrin gavage on GDs 5-20, isocalorically matching ALC counterparts. On GD 21, bilateral hippocampi were dissected, flash frozen, and stored at -80° C. Total RNA was then isolated from homogenized tissues. Samples were normalized to ~4nM and pooled equally. Sequencing was performed by Illumina NextSeq 500 on a 75 cycle, single-end sequencing run. RESULTS: RNA-seq identified 13,388 genes, of these, 76 genes showed a significant difference (p < 0.05, log2 fold change ≥2) in expression between the PF and ALC groups. Forty-nine genes showed sex-dependent dysregulation; IPA analysis showed among female offspring, dysregulated pathways included proline and citrulline biosynthesis, whereas in males, xenobiotic metabolism signaling and alaninine biosynthesis etc. were altered. CONCLUSION: We conclude that chronic binge alcohol exposure during pregnancy dysregulates fetal hippocampal gene expression in a sex-specific manner. Identification of subtle, transcriptome-level dysregulation in hippocampal molecular pathways offers potential mechanistic insights underlying FASD pathogenesis.

published proceedings

  • Brain Behav

altmetric score

  • 0.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Lunde-Young, R., Ramirez, J., Naik, V., Orzabal, M., Lee, J., Konganti, K., ... Ramadoss, J.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Lunde-Young, Raine||Ramirez, Josue||Naik, Vishal||Orzabal, Marcus||Lee, Jehoon||Konganti, Kranti||Hillhouse, Andrew||Threadgill, David||Ramadoss, Jayanth

publication date

  • July 2019