Ethanol Exposure Causes Muscle Degeneration in Zebrafish

J Dev Biol. 2018 Mar 9;6(1):7. doi: 10.3390/jdb6010007.


Alcoholic myopathies are characterized by neuromusculoskeletal symptoms such as compromised movement and weakness. Although these symptoms have been attributed to neurological damage, EtOH may also target skeletal muscle. EtOH exposure during zebrafish primary muscle development or adulthood results in smaller muscle fibers. However, the effects of EtOH exposure on skeletal muscle during the growth period that follows primary muscle development are not well understood. We determined the effects of EtOH exposure on muscle during this phase of development. Strikingly, muscle fibers at this stage are acutely sensitive to EtOH treatment: EtOH induces muscle degeneration. The severity of EtOH-induced muscle damage varies but muscle becomes more refractory to EtOH as muscle develops. NF-kB induction in muscle indicates that EtOH triggers a pro-inflammatory response. EtOH-induced muscle damage is p53-independent. Uptake of Evans blue dye shows that EtOH treatment causes sarcolemmal instability before muscle fiber detachment. Dystrophin-null sapje mutant zebrafish also exhibit sarcolemmal instability. We tested whether Trichostatin A (TSA), which reduces muscle degeneration in sapje mutants, would affect EtOH-treated zebrafish. We found that TSA and EtOH are a lethal combination. EtOH does, however, exacerbate muscle degeneration in sapje mutants. EtOH also disrupts adhesion of muscle fibers to their extracellular matrix at the myotendinous junction: some detached muscle fibers retain beta-Dystroglycan indicating failure of muscle end attachments. Overexpression of Paxillin, which reduces muscle degeneration in zebrafish deficient for beta-Dystroglycan, is not sufficient to rescue degeneration. Taken together, our results suggest that EtOH exposure has pleiotropic deleterious effects on skeletal muscle.

Keywords: Paxillin; alcohol; ethanol; fetal alcohol spectrum disorder; muscle; muscular dystrophy; myopathy; zebrafish.