Neuroprotective effect of small heat shock protein, Hsp27, after acute and chronic alcohol administration

Cell Stress Chaperones. 2010 Nov;15(6):807-17. doi: 10.1007/s12192-010-0188-8. Epub 2010 May 12.


Alcohol induces degeneration of neurons and inhibits neurogenesis in the brain. Small heat shock proteins are able to protect neurons in cerebral ischemia and oxidative stress. In this study, we investigated the neuroprotective effect of small heat shock protein, Hsp27, after acute and chronic ethanol administrations using transgenic mice overexpressing the human Hsp27 protein. Transgenic mice and wild-type littermates were injected with 2 g/kg ethanol intraperitoneally, and then motor coordination and muscle strength were analyzed using different behavioral tests, such as footprint analysis, balance beam, and inverted screen tests. Ethanol-injected transgenic mice showed similar footprints to control saline-injected mice, did not fall of the beam, and were able to climb to the top of the inverted screen, while wild-type mice showed ataxia and incoordination after ethanol injection. The effect of Hsp27 on chronic ethanol consumption was also investigated. Drinking water of mice was replaced by a 20% ethanol solution for 5 weeks, and then brain sections were stained with Fluoro Jade C staining. We found significantly lesser amount of degenerating neurons in the brain of ethanol-drinking transgenic mice compared to wild-type mice. We conclude that Hsp27 can protect neurons against the acute and chronic toxic effects of ethanol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Ethanol / toxicity*
  • HSP27 Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • HSP27 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / metabolism*


  • HSP27 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Ethanol