Our goal was to examine whether in utero exposure to alcohol impaired reactivity of cerebral arterioles during development. We fed Sprague–Dawley dams a liquid diet with or without alcohol (3% ethanol) for the duration of pregnancy (21–23 days). Around 4–6 weeks after birth, we examined reactivity of cerebral arterioles to eNOS- (ADP) and nNOS-dependent (NMDA) agonists in the offspring. We found that in utero exposure to alcohol attenuated responses of cerebral arterioles to ADP and NMDA, but not to nitroglycerin in rats exposed to alcohol in utero. L-NMMA reduced responses to agonists in control rats, but not in rats exposed to alcohol in utero. Treatment of dams with apocynin for the duration of pregnancy rescued the impairment in reactivity to ADP and NMDA in the offspring. Protein expression of NOX-2 and NOX-4 was increased in alcohol rats compared to control rats. We also found an increase in superoxide levels in the cortex of rats exposed to alcohol in utero. Our findings suggest that in utero exposure to alcohol impairs eNOS and nNOS reactivity of cerebral arterioles via a chronic increase in oxidative stress.
- Cerebral circulation
- fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
- oxidative stress
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine