Experimental model of alcohol-related peripheral neuropathy

Authors

  • Michelle L. Mellion MD,

    Corresponding author
    • Department of Neurology, Warren Alpert School of Medicine, Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
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  • VanAnh Nguyen BS,

    1. Department of Pathology/Neuropathology, Warren Alpert School of Medicine, Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
    2. Department of Medicine, Warren Alpert Medical School of Medicine, Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
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  • Ming Tong MD,

    1. Department of Pathology/Neuropathology, Warren Alpert School of Medicine, Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
    2. Department of Medicine, Warren Alpert Medical School of Medicine, Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
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  • James Gilchrist MD,

    1. Department of Neurology, Warren Alpert School of Medicine, Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
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  • Suzanne De La Monte MD, MPH

    1. Department of Pathology/Neuropathology, Warren Alpert School of Medicine, Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
    2. Department of Medicine, Warren Alpert Medical School of Medicine, Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
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  • This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (AA-11431, AA-12908, and K24-AA-16126) and by a special fund from Rhode Island Hospital.

Correspondence to: M.L. Mellion; e-mail: mmellion1@lifespan.org

ABSTRACT

Introduction

The aim of this work was to determine the effect of chronic alcohol exposure on peripheral nerves in a nutritionally balanced rat model of alcoholism.

Methods

Three different strains of adult male rats were pair-fed for 8 weeks with isocaloric liquid diets containing 0% or 37% ethanol. Nerve conduction studies (NCS) were performed. Peripheral nerve and muscle were examined histologically with morphometrics.

Results

Ethanol exposure significantly slowed velocity in tibial and fibular nerves, but not in the plantar nerve in all 3 strains. Studies of the sciatic nerve revealed decreased fiber diameters and increased regenerative sprouts in peripheral nerves. There was muscle denervation of ethanol-exposed rats in all 3 strains.

Conclusions

Chronic ethanol exposure caused a polyneuropathy characterized by axonal degeneration despite adequate nutrition. These results suggest that ethanol exposure has direct neurotoxic effects on peripheral nerves. This model may be useful in understanding the underlying mechanism(s) of alcohol-related peripheral neuropathy. Muscle Nerve, 48: 204–211, 2013

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