Does early ethanol exposure increase seeking‐like behavior in zebrafish?

Pinheiro‐da‐Silva, J., Araujo‐Silva, H. and Luchiari, A.C. (2021), Does early ethanol exposure increase seeking‐like behavior in zebrafish?. Int J Dev Neurosci. Accepted Author Manuscript.


Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is the most common cause of birth defects. The severe variations are in fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) but the most frequent cases are alcohol‐related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND), which are of a difficult diagnosis. ARND characteristics include impaired social behavior, anxiety and depression prevalence, cognitive deficits, and an increased chance for drug addiction.

Here, we aimed to test whether early alcohol exposure leads to later alcohol preference. We hypothesize that early alcohol exposure increases the reinforcing effects on later experiences, raising the chance of addiction in adult life. Lately, the zebrafish has been a valuable model on alcohol research, allowing embryonic exposure and the study of the ontogenetic effects. For this, embryos were exposed to three different alcohol treatments: 0.0%, 0.25% and 0.5%, for 2 hours, at 24‐hours post‐fertilization. Then we evaluated the effects of embryonic alcohol exposure on conditioned place preference in two developmental stage: fry (10 days post‐fertilization (dpf)) and young (90dpf) zebrafish.

Results shows that control fish presented alcohol associative learning, that means, changes in place preference due to alcohol exposure, at both ontogenetic phases. However, zebrafish exposed to 0.25 and 0.5% alcohol during embryogenesis did not show conditioning response at any evaluated stage. These results suggest perception and cognitive deficits due to embryonic alcohol exposure that can alter alcohol responsiveness throughout a lifetime. Although low alcohol doses do not provoke malformation, it has been shown to induce several neurological and behavioral changes that are termed as Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

These results may contribute to future investigations on how embryonic exposure affects the neurocircuitry related to perception and associative learning processing.

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necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ‘FASD Prevention Conversation, A Shared Responsibility Project’, its stakeholders, and/or funder

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