We aimed to compare the effects of oral ethanol (Eth) alone or combined with the phytoestrogen resveratrol (Rsv) on the expression of various brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) transcripts and the encoded protein pro-BDNF in the hippocampus of pregnant and embryonic rats. A low (0.25 g/kg body weight (BW)/day) dose of Eth produced an increase in the expression of BDNF exons I, III and IV and a decrease in that of the exon IX in embryos, but failed to affect BDNF transcript and pro-BDNF protein expression in adults. However, co-administration of Eth 0.25 g/kg·BW/day and Rsv led to increased expression of BDNF exons I, III and IV and to a small but significant increase in the level of pro-BDNF protein in maternal rats. A high (2.5 g/kg·BW/day) dose of Eth increased the expression of BDNF exons III and IV in embryos, but it decreased the expression of exon IX containing BDNF mRNAs in the maternal rats. While the high dose of Eth alone reduced the level of pro-BDNF in adults, it failed to change the levels of pro-BDNF in embryos. Eth differentially affects the expression pattern of BDNF transcripts and levels of pro-BDNF in the hippocampus of both adult and embryonic rats.
Keywords: alcohol; fetus; growth factor; neuroprotection; neurotoxicity; resveratrol; transcript.