Prenatal Alcohol Exposure Affects Progenitor Cell Numbers in Olfactory Bulbs and Dentate Gyrus of Vervet Monkeys


Mark W. Burke, Alexey Inyatkin, Maurice Ptito, Frank R. Ervin, and Roberta M. Palmour


Fetal alcohol exposure (FAE) alters hippocampal cell numbers in rodents and primates, and this may be due, in part, to a reduction in the number or migration of neuronal progenitor cells. The olfactory bulb exhibits substantial postnatal cellular proliferation and a rapid turnover of newly formed cells in the rostral migratory pathway, while production and migration of postnatal neurons into the dentate gyrus may be more complex. The relatively small size of the olfactory bulb, compared to the hippocampus, potentially makes this structure ideal for a rapid analysis. This study used the St. Kitts vervet monkey (Chlorocebus sabeus) to (1) investigate the normal developmental sequence of post-natal proliferation in the olfactory bulb and dentate gyrus and (2) determine the effects of naturalistic prenatal ethanol exposure on proliferation at three different ages (neonate, five months and two years). Using design-based stereology, we found an age-related decrease of actively proliferating cells in the olfactory bulb and dentate gyrus for both control and FAE groups. Furthermore, at the neonatal time point, the FAE group had fewer actively proliferating cells as compared to the control group. These data are unique with respect to fetal ethanol effects on progenitor proliferation in the primate brain and suggest that the olfactory bulb may be a useful structure for studies of cellular proliferation.