Developmental alcohol exposure leads to a persistent change on astrocyte secretome

J Neurochem. 2016 Jun;137(5):730-43. doi: 10.1111/jnc.13542. Epub 2016 Feb 15.


Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is the most common cause of mental disabilities in the western world. It has been quite established that acute alcohol exposure can dramatically affect astrocyte function. Because the effects of early alcohol exposure on cell physiology can persist into adulthood, we tested the hypothesis that ethanol exposure in ferrets during a period equivalent to the last months of human gestation leads to persistent changes in astrocyte secretome in vitro. Animals were treated with ethanol (3.5 g/kg) or saline between postnatal day (P)10-30. At P31, astrocyte cultures were made and cells were submitted to stable isotope labeling by amino acids. Twenty-four hour conditioned media of cells obtained from ethanol- or saline-treated animals (ET-CM or SAL-CM) were collected and analyzed by quantitative mass spectrometry in tandem with liquid chromatography. Here, we show that 65 out of 280 quantifiable proteins displayed significant differences comparing ET-CM to SAL-CM. Among the 59 proteins that were found to be reduced in ET-CM we observed components of the extracellular matrix such as laminin subunits α2, α4, β1, β2, and γ1 and the proteoglycans biglycan, heparan sulfate proteoglycan 2, and lumican. Proteins with trophic function such as insulin-like growth factor binding protein 4, pigment epithelium-derived factor, and clusterin as well as proteins involved on modulation of proteolysis such as metalloproteinase inhibitor 1 and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 were also reduced. In contrast, pro-synaptogeneic proteins like thrombospondin-1, hevin as well as the modulator of extracelular matrix expression, angiotensinogen, were found increased in ET-CM. The analysis of interactome maps through ingenuity pathway analysis demonstrated that the amyloid beta A4 protein precursor, which was found reduced in ET-CM, was previously shown to interact with ten other proteins that exhibited significant changes in the ET-CM. Taken together our results strongly suggest that early exposure to teratogens such as alcohol may lead to an enduring change in astrocyte secretome. Despite efforts in prevention, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are a major cause of mental disabilities. Here, we show that developmental exposure to alcohol lead to a persistent change in the pattern of proteins secreted (secretome) by astrocytes. This study is also the first mass spectrometry-based assessment of the astrocyte secretome in a gyrencephalic animal. Cover Image for this issue: doi: 10.1111/jnc.13320.

Keywords: astrocytes; development; ethanol; fetal alcohol syndrome; proteomics; secretome.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Astrocytes / drug effects*
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Ethanol / administration & dosage
  • Ethanol / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Ferrets
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Proteome / genetics*
  • Proteome / metabolism*


  • Proteome
  • Ethanol