Persistent Decreases in Adult Subventricular and Hippocampal Neurogenesis Following Adolescent Intermittent Ethanol Exposure


Wen Liu and Fulton T. Crews


Neurogenesis in hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) and subventricular zone (SVZ) matures during adolescence to adult levels. Binge drinking is prevalent in adolescent humans, and could alter brain neurogenesis and maturation in a manner that persists into adulthood. To determine the impact of adolescent binge drinking on adult neurogenesis, Wistar rats received adolescent intermittent ethanol (AIE) exposure (5.0 g/kg/day, i.g., 2 days on/2 days off from postnatal day, P25–P54) and sacrificed on P57 or P95. Neural progenitor cell proliferation, differentiation, survival and maturation using immunohistochemistry was determined in the DG and SVZ. We found that AIE exposure decreased neurogenesis in both brain regions in adulthood (P95). In the DG at P57, AIE exposure resulted in a significant reduction of SOX2+, Tbr2+, Prox1+ and parvalbumin (PV)+IR expression, and at P95 decreased DCX+ and PV+IR expression. AIE exposure also reduced the expression of two cell proliferation markers (Ki67+ and BrdU+IR with 300 mg/kg, 2 h) at P95. The immune signaling molecule β-2 microglobulin+ and the cell death marker activated caspase-3+IR were significantly increased in the DG by AIE exposure. In the SVZ, AIE exposure decreased SOX2+, Mash1+, DCX+ and Dlx2+IR expression at P95, but not at P57. Thus, in adulthood both brain regions have reduced neurogenesis following AIE exposure. To assess progenitor cell survival and maturation, rats were treated with BrdU (150 mg/kg/day, 14 days) to label proliferating cells and were sacrificed weeks later on P95. In the hippocampus DG, AIE exposure increased survival BrdU+ cells which differentiated into Iba1+ microglia. In contrast, SVZ had decreased BrdU+ cells similar to decreased DCX+ neurogenesis. These data indicate that AIE exposure causes a lasting decrease in both adult hippocampal DG and forebrain SVZ neurogenesis with brain regional differences in the AIE response that persist into adulthood.