Early exposure to ethanol but not red wine at the same alcohol concentration induces behavioral and brain neurotrophin alterations in young and adult mice

Marco Fiore, Giovanni Laviola, Luigi Aloe, Veronica di Fausto, Rosanna Mancinelli, Mauro Ceccanti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Ethanol exposure during pregnancy is one of the major causes of mental retardation in western countries by inducing fetal-alcohol-like-syndromes. Red wine is known to contain ethanol but also compounds with putative antioxidant properties. It has also been shown that nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) are severely affected by ethanol during prenatal and postnatal life. The aim of the current study was to investigate in male CD1 mice brain alterations in NGF and BDNF due to chronic early exposure to ethanol solution (11 vol%) or to red wine at the same alcohol concentration starting from 60 days before pregnancy up to pups weaning. Data revealed no differences between groups of dams in pregnancy duration, neither in pups delivery, pups mortality and sex ratio. Data also showed that adult animals exposed to only ethanol had disrupted levels of both NGF and BDNF in the hippocampus and other brain areas. This profile was associated with impaired ChAT immunopositivity in the septum and Nuclei Basalis and with altered cognition and emotional behavior. Quite interestingly mice exposed to red wine had no change in the behavior or in ChAT immunopositivity but a decrease in hippocampal BDNF and a mild NGF decrease in the cortex. Also NGF-induced neuritic outgrowth in PC-12 cells was still present when exposed to red wine but not when exposed to ethanol solution only. Data suggest differences in ethanol-induced neurotoxicity between red wine and ethanol solution only.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-71
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009



  • BDNF
  • Behavior
  • Ethanol
  • NGF
  • Red wine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Toxicology

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