Effects of chronic intermittent ethanol exposure and withdrawal on neuroblastoma cell transcriptome

Alcohol. 2020 Jun:85:119-126. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2019.12.004. Epub 2020 Jan 7.


Cycles of heavy drinking and abstinence can lead to alcohol use disorder. We studied the effects of chronic intermittent ethanol exposure (CIE) over 3 weeks on neuroblastoma cells, using an ethanol concentration frequently attained in binge drinking (40 mM, 184 mg/dL). There were many changes in gene expression but most were small. CIE affected pathways instrumental in the development or plasticity of neurons, including axonal guidance, reelin signaling, and synaptogenesis. Genes involved in dopamine and serotonin signaling were also affected. Changes in transporters and receptors could dampen both NMDA and norepinephrine transmissions. Decreased expression of the GABA transporter SLC6A11 could increase GABA transmission and has been associated with a switch from sweet drinking to ethanol consumption in rats. Ethanol increased stress responses such as the unfolded protein response. TGF-β and NFκB signaling were increased. Most of the genes involved in cholesterol biosynthesis were decreased in expression. Withdrawal for 24 h after CIE caused most of the CIE-induced expression changes to move back toward unexposed levels.

Keywords: Alcohol; Binge drinking; Gene expression; SH-SY5Y cells; Withdrawal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / metabolism
  • Cell Line / drug effects*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Neuroblastoma*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism
  • Reelin Protein
  • Transcriptome / drug effects*


  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Reelin Protein
  • Reln protein, rat
  • Ethanol
  • RELN protein, human