Mitochondrial dysfunction after fetal alcohol exposure

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1996 Sep;20(6):1029-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.1996.tb01942.x.


Specific mitochondrial enzyme activities and mRNA levels were measured in the heart, brain, and liver tissues of a group of 1-day-old neonatal rats whose mothers were alcohol-fed during pregnancy and compared with a control group. The results show a significant decrease in mitochondrial ATP synthase activity in both the brain and liver, as well as a decrease in complex III activity in the liver of rats exposed to alcohol. Other mitochondrial enzymes activities (e.g., citrate synthase, cytochrome c oxidase, and complex I), as well as specific mitochondrial transcript levels, were not significantly affected. Heart mitochondrial enzyme activities were not significantly affected. These data reveal that a tissue-specific response occurs after fetal exposure to alcohol and may explain some of the cellular events occurring in fetal alcohol syndrome resulting in abnormal growth and neurological development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP Synthetase Complexes
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Citrate (si)-Synthase / physiology
  • DNA Probes
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / drug effects
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / physiology
  • Electron Transport Complex III / physiology
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / physiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria / physiology
  • Mitochondria, Heart / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria, Heart / physiology
  • Mitochondria, Liver / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria, Liver / physiology
  • Multienzyme Complexes / physiology
  • NAD(P)H Dehydrogenase (Quinone) / physiology
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Phosphotransferases (Phosphate Group Acceptor) / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • DNA Probes
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • NAD(P)H Dehydrogenase (Quinone)
  • Electron Transport Complex IV
  • Citrate (si)-Synthase
  • ATP Synthetase Complexes
  • Phosphotransferases (Phosphate Group Acceptor)
  • Electron Transport Complex III