Effects of Ethanol Exposure during Distinct Periods of Brain Development on Hippocampal Synaptic Plasticity




Patten, Anna R.
Gil-Mohapel, Joana
Wortman, Ryan C.
Noonan, Athena
Brocardo, Patricia S.
Christie, Brian R.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Brain Sciences


Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders occur when a mother drinks during pregnancy and can greatly influence synaptic plasticity and cognition in the offspring. In this study we determined whether there are periods during brain development that are more susceptible to the effects of ethanol exposure on hippocampal synaptic plasticity. In particular, we evaluated how the ability to elicit long-term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) was affected in young adult rats that were exposed to ethanol during either the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd trimester equivalent. As expected, the effects of ethanol on young adult DG LTP were less severe when exposure was limited to a particular trimester equivalent when compared to exposure throughout gestation. In males, ethanol exposure during the 1st, 2nd or 3rd trimester equivalent did not significantly reduce LTP in the DG. In females, ethanol exposure during either the 1st or 2nd trimester equivalents did not impact LTP in early adulthood, but following exposure during the 3rd trimester equivalent alone, LTP was significantly increased in the female DG. These results further exemplify the disparate effects between the ability to elicit LTP in the male and female brain following perinatal ethanol exposure (PNEE).



dentate gyrus, ethanol, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, fetal alcohol syndrome, hippocampus, long-term potentiation, synaptic plasticity, vulnerability period


Patten, A. R., Gil-Mohapel, J., Wortman, R. C., Noonan, A., Brocardo, P. S., & Christie, B. R. (2013). Effects of Ethanol Exposure during Distinct Periods of Brain Development on Hippocampal Synaptic Plasticity. Brain Sciences, 3(3), 1076-1094. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci3031076.