Date of Award

1-1-2011

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Department

Psychology

Sub-Department

Experimental Psychology

First Advisor

Sandra J Kelly

Abstract

FASD affects 2-5% of school age children and, while many of the teratogenic effects of ethanol have been described, a mechanism through which alcohol causes these effects remains to be found. This study tested the hypothesis that developmental ethanol exposure alters the hippocampal epigenome in juvenile rats in a sex-specific manner. A three trimester model of ethanol exposure was used in which pups were exposed to ethanol throughout gestation and from postnatal days (PD) 2 to 10 (ET group). Control groups included rats exposed to the administration procedures (IC group) and non-treated rats (NC group). The activity of two enzymes involved in epigenetic modifications, histone deacetylase (HDAC) and DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) was measured in hippocampal tissue of 21 day old rats. Alcohol exposure during development led to an increase in DNMT, but not HDAC, activity in both sexes. The data are consistent with the possibility that epigenetic modifications may be a mechanism through which ethanol can alter the developing brain.

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