Transient exposure to ethanol during zebrafish embryogenesis results in defects in neuronal differentiation: An alternative model system to study fasd

Xavier Joya, Oscar Garcia-Algar, Oriol Vall, Cristina Pujades

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© 2014 Joya et al. Background: The exposure of the human embryo to ethanol results in a spectrum of disorders involving multiple organ systems, including the impairment of the development of the central nervous system (CNS). In spite of the importance for human health, the molecular basis of prenatal ethanol exposure remains poorly understood, mainly to the difficulty of sample collection. Zebrafish is now emerging as a powerful organism for the modeling and the study of human diseases. In this work, we have assessed the sensitivity of specific subsets of neurons to ethanol exposure during embryogenesis and we have visualized the sensitive embryonic developmental periods for specific neuronal groups by the use of different transgenic zebrafish lines. Methodology/Principal Findings: In order to evaluate the teratogenic effects of acute ethanol exposure, we exposed zebrafish embryos to ethanol in a given time window and analyzed the effects in neurogenesis, neuronal differentiation and brain patterning. Zebrafish larvae exposed to ethanol displayed small eyes and/or a reduction of the body length, phenotypical features similar to the observed in children with prenatal exposure to ethanol. When neuronal populations were analyzed, we observed a clear reduction in the number of differentiated neurons in the spinal cord upon ethanol exposure. There was a decrease in the population of sensory neurons mainly due to a decrease in cell proliferation and subsequent apoptosis during neuronal differentiation, with no effect in motoneuron specification. Conclusion: Our investigation highlights that transient exposure to ethanol during early embryonic development affects neuronal differentiation although does not result in defects in early neurogenesis. These results establish the use of zebrafish embryos as an alternative research model to elucidate the molecular mechanism(s) of ethanol-induced developmental toxicity at very early stages of embryonic development. This study was supported by grants from Fondo de Investigaciones Sanitarias (FIS) (PI10/02593; PI13/01135) and Red de Salud Materno-Infantil y del Desarrollo (SAMID) (RD12/0026/0003) from the Instituto Carlos III (Spain), a grant from Mutua Madrileň a (AP150572014), intramural funding of the Neuroscience Program at IMIM (Institut Hospital del Mar d9Investigacions Mè diques), partially supported by Generalitat de Catalunya (Spain) (2009SGR1388; 2014SGR584) and from Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (BFU2012-31994). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere112851
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2014


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