Fetal Alcohol Effects in Rats Exposed Pre- and Postnatally to a Low Dose of Ethanol

Authors

  • J. Vaglenova,

    Corresponding author
    1. From the Laboratory of Experimental Psychopharmacology, Institute of Physiology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • V. V. Petkov

    1. From the Laboratory of Experimental Psychopharmacology, Institute of Physiology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • We are grateful to professor Bruce Kimler from Kanzas Medical Centre for careful reading and correcting of our manuscript, and for his valuable advice. The authors gratefully acknowledge Dr. Mauro Santos from Dept. Genética i Microbiologia, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, for statistical analysis.

Reprint requests: J. Vaglenova, Ph.D., Dept. de Bioquimica i de Biologia Molecular, Facultat de Ciencias, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellatera (Barcelona), Spain.

Abstract

Wistar rats were exposed pre- and/or postnatally to a low dose of ethanol (1 g/kg of body weight of dams/day) via maternal peroral intubation. This dose significantly increased the mortality rate (23 to 32% vs. 7% in controls) in offspring exposed to ethanol during pregnancy, with a continued postnatal exposure having no additional effect. However, offspring cross-fostered to dams that had been exposed to ethanol only during gestation (the offspring themselves never being directly exposed to ethanol) displayed an even greater (59%) mortality. Growth of the offspring was initially delayed, but 9 weeks after birth their body weight reached that of the controls. The two-way active avoidance test showed an impairment, compared with the controls, of learning and memory in both male and female adolescent (9-week-old) rats, as well as in male (but not in female) 5-month-old rats born of dams exposed to ethanol during gestation and lactation. In the group of male rats treated prenatally and postnatally with ethanol, 60% were “poor learners,” compared with 33% in the control group. Results suggest that ethanol at a dose of 1 g/kg/day administered to dams during gestation and lactation produced growth and behavioral changes in the offspring.

Ancillary