Article Abstract

Alcohol exposure in utero perturbs retinoid homeostasis in adult rats

Authors: Youn-Kyung Kim, Michael V. Zuccaro, Changqing Zhang, Dipak Sarkar, Loredana Quadro


Background: Maternal alcohol exposure and adult alcohol intake have been shown to perturb the metabolism of various micro- and macro-nutrients, including vitamin A and its derivatives (retinoids). Therefore, it has been hypothesized that the well-known detrimental consequences of alcohol consumption may be due to deregulations of the metabolism of such nutrients rather than to a direct effect of alcohol. Alcohol exposure in utero also has long-term harmful consequences on the health of the offspring with mechanisms that have not been fully clarified. Disruption of tissue retinoid homeostasis has been linked not only to abnormal embryonic development, but also to various adult pathological conditions, including cancer, metabolic disorders and abnormal lung function. We hypothesized that prenatal alcohol exposure may permanently perturb tissue retinoid metabolism, predisposing the offspring to adult chronic diseases.
Methods: Serum and tissues (liver, lung and prostate from males; liver and lung from females) were collected from 60-75 day-old sprague dawley rats born from dams that were: (I) fed a liquid diet containing 6.7% alcohol between gestational day 7 and 21; or (II) pair-fed with isocaloric liquid diet during the same gestational window; or (III) fed ad libitum with regular rat chow diet throughout pregnancy. Serum and tissue retinoid levels were analyzed by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Serum retinol-binding protein (RBP) levels were measured by western blot analysis, and liver, lung and prostate mRNA levels of lecithin-retinol acyltransferase (LRAT) were measured by qPCR.
Results: Retinyl ester levels were significantly reduced in the lung of both males and females, as well as in the liver and ventral prostate of males born from alcohol-fed dams. Tissue LRAT mRNA levels remained unchanged upon maternal alcohol treatment.
Conclusions: Prenatal alcohol exposure in rats affects retinoid metabolism in adult life, in a tissue- and sex-dependent manner. We propose that the alcohol-induced perturbations of vitamin A metabolism may predispose to detrimental consequnces on adult health.