Maternal high n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake during pregnancy increases voluntary alcohol intake and hypothalamic estrogen receptor alpha and beta levels among female offspring

Dev Neurosci. 2000 Sep-Dec;22(5-6):488-93. doi: 10.1159/000017480.

Abstract

Identification of nongenetic biological factors that predispose to alcohol abuse is central to attempts to prevent alcoholism. Since an exposure to estradiol in utero increases voluntary alcohol intake in adulthood, we investigated whether an increase in pregnancy estradiol levels, caused by feeding pregnant mice a high-fat corn oil diet, also influences voluntary alcohol intake among female offspring. In addition, the effect on estrogen receptor alpha (ER-alpha) and ER-beta protein levels in the brain using Western blot assay, was determined. Pregnant CD-1 mice were kept on a high n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA; 43% calories from corn oil) or low n-6 PUFA diet (16% calories from corn oil) throughout gestation, and switched to a Purina laboratory chow after the pups were born. When 4 months of age, the female offspring were given a choice between 5% alcohol and tap water. The offspring of high n-6 PUFA mothers voluntarily consumed more alcohol than the offspring of low n-6 PUFA mothers. ER-alpha and ER-beta protein levels in the hypothalamus were 1.5- and 2-fold higher, respectively, in the female offspring of high n-6 PUFA mothers than in the low n-6 PUFA offspring. No significant changes in the protein levels of ER-alpha and ER-beta were seen in the frontal brain. Our findings indicate that a maternal exposure to a high n-6 PUFA diet during pregnancy increases alcohol intake among female offspring. This behavioral change, together with previously observed increase in aggressiveness and reduction in depressive-like behavior in these offspring, may be linked to an increase in the hypothalamic ER-alpha and ER-beta levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Ethanol / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Self Administration

Substances

  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogen Receptor beta
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Ethanol