Maternal background alters the penetrance of growth phenotypes and sex‐specific placental adaptation of offspring sired by alcohol‐exposed males Academic Article uri icon


  • Epigenetic mechanisms of paternal inheritance are an emerging area of interest in our efforts to understand fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. In rodent models examining maternal alcohol exposures, different maternal genetic backgrounds protect or sensitize offspring to alcohol-induced teratogenesis. However, whether maternal background can mitigate sperm-inherited alterations in developmental programming and modify the penetrance of growth defects induced by preconception paternal alcohol exposures remains unaddressed. In our previous studies examining pure C57Bl/6J crosses, the offspring of alcohol-exposed sires exhibited fetal growth restriction, enlarged placentas, and decreased placental efficiency. Here, we find that in contrast to our previous studies, the F1 offspring of alcohol-exposed C57Bl/6J sires and CD-1 dams do not exhibit fetal growth restriction, with male fetuses developing smaller placentas and increased placental efficiencies. However, in these hybrid offspring, preconception paternal alcohol exposure induces sex-specific changes in placental morphology. Specifically, the female offspring of alcohol-exposed sires displayed structural changes in the junctional and labyrinth zones, along with increased placental glycogen content. These changes in placental organization are accompanied by female-specific alterations in the expression of imprinted genes Cdkn1c and H19. Although male placentae do not display overt changes in placental histology, using RNA-sequencing, we identified programmed alterations in genes regulating oxidative phosphorylation, mitochondrial function, and Sirtuin signaling. Collectively, our data reveal that preconception paternal alcohol exposure transmits a stressor to developing offspring, that males and females exhibit distinct patterns of placental adaptation, and that maternal genetic background can modulate the effects of paternal alcohol exposure.

altmetric score

  • 3.95

author list (cited authors)

  • Thomas, K. N., Zimmel, K. N., Roach, A. N., Basel, A., Mehta, N. A., Bedi, Y. S., & Golding, M. C.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Thomas, Kara N||Zimmel, Katherine N||Roach, Alexis N||Basel, Alison||Mehta, Nicole A||Bedi, Yudhishtar S||Golding, Michael C

publication date

  • November 2021