Background: Previous studies in our laboratory indicated that metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR)-stimulated phosphoinositide hydrolysis is markedly reduced in the hippocampal formation of adult rat offspring whose mothers drank moderate amounts of ethanol during pregnancy. In the present study, we extended these observations by measuring the impact of prenatal ethanol exposure on proteins associated with the mGluR5 receptor-effector system along with two mGluR5 agonist-mediated responses in dentate gyrus of adult offspring.
Methods: Sprague-Dawley rat dams consumed one of three diets throughout gestation: (1) a BioServ liquid diet that contained 5% ethanol (v/v), (2) pair-fed an isocalorically equivalent amount of 0% ethanol liquid diet, or (3) lab chow ad libitum. Microdissected slices of dentate gyrus were prepared from adult female offspring from each diet group and used for (1) Western blot analyses of mGluR5, the G-proteins Galphaq and Galpha11, and phospholipase C-beta1; (2) 2-chloro-5-hydroxyphenylglycine (CHPG)-stimulated growth associated protein 43 (GAP-43) phosphorylation; or (3) CHPG potentiation of electrically evoked [H]-D-aspartate (D-ASP) release from dentate gyrus slices.
Results: In tissue prepared from untreated control rats, CHPG produced a dose-dependent increase in phosphate incorporation into GAP-43, with maximal agonist stimulation occurring at 20 microM of CHPG. CHPG produced a quantitatively similar dose-dependent increase in the potentiation of electrically evoked D-ASP release from dentate gyrus slices from untreated controls. Fetal ethanol exposure reduced the amount of dentate gyrus mGluR5 receptor protein by 36% compared with the diet control groups. There were no significant differences between diet groups in the two G-proteins or phospholipase C-beta1 protein. Fetal ethanol exposure reduced CHPG-stimulated GAP-43 phosphorylation to approximately one half the amount of CHPG stimulation observed in the control diet groups. Prenatal ethanol exposure also reduced CHPG potentiation of D-ASP release to a similar degree compared with control.
Conclusions: These results indicate that prenatal exposure to moderate quantities of ethanol reduces mGluR5 expression in the dentate gyrus of adult offspring. Although the subcellular site(s) for reduced mGluR5 expression cannot be discerned from Western blot data, the quantitatively similar effects of prenatal ethanol exposure on mGluR5 agonist stimulation of presynaptically localized GAP-43 phosphorylation and CHPG potentiation of evoked D-ASP release suggest that the presynaptic nerve terminal is one site where prenatal ethanol exposure has reduced mGluR5 receptor number and function. Furthermore, these data implicate these neurochemical alterations as one factor contributing to the hippocampal synaptic plasticity and behavioral deficits that we have observed previously in prenatal ethanol-exposed offspring.