Hippocampal neurogenesis in the C57BL/6J mice at early adulthood following prenatal alcohol exposure

Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


We examined the effect of chronic prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) on the process of adult neurogenesis in C57BL/6J mice at early adulthood (PND 56). Pregnant mice, and their in utero litters, were exposed to alcohol, through oral gavage, on gestational days 7–16, with recorded blood alcohol concentrations averaging 184 mg/dL (CA group). Two control groups, sucrose (CAc) and non-treated (NTc) control groups were also examined. The brains of pups at PND 56 from each experimental group were sectioned in a sagittal plane, and stained for Nissl substance with cresyl violet, and immunostained for Ki-67 which labels proliferative cells and doublecortin (DCX) for immature neurons. Morphologically, the neurogenic pattern was identical in all three groups studied. Populations of Ki-67 immunopositive cells in the dentate gyrus were not statistically significantly different between the experimental groups and there were no differences between the sexes. Thus, the PAE in this study does not appear to have a strong effect on the proliferative process in the adult hippocampus. In contrast, the numbers of immature neurons, labeled with DCX, was statistically significantly lower in the prenatal alcohol exposed mice compared with the two control groups. Alcohol significantly lowered the number of DCX hippocampal cells in the male mice, but not in the female mice. This indicates that the PAE appears to lower the rate of conversion of proliferative cells to immature neurons and this effect of alcohol is sexually dimorphic. This lowered number of immature neurons in the hippocampus appears to mirror hippocampal dysfunctions observed in FASD children.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


Metabolic Brain Disease