Enriched environment attenuates changes in water-maze performance and BDNF level caused by prenatal alcohol exposure
Keywords:brain-derived neurotrophic factor, enriched environment, prenatal alcohol exposure, Morris water maze
Prenatal exposure to alcohol can result in fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), characterized by significant changes in the physiology, structural plasticity of hippocampal function, including long-term deficits in learning and memory. Environmental enrichment has long been known to improve motor and cognitive function levels, causes several neurochemical and morphological alterations in the brain. Therefore, the effects of environmental enrichment on the neurobehavioral and neurotrophic changes in mice exposed prenatally to alcohol were investigated in this study. The pregnant dams were given 25 % ethanol (w/v) or isocaloric sucrose by liquid diet from gestation day 7 to 20. After weaning on postnatal day 28, offspring were exposed to standard cage (CC, CFAS) or enriched living conditions (CE, EFAS) for 8 weeks. Neurobehavioral studies both on hippocampus-dependent spatial learning and place and cue learning strategy, a striatum-dependent test, were measured by the Morris water maze task. Moreover, the reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) technique was also used in order to study the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) level in both the hippocampus and striatum of mice. Neurobehavioral studies show that animals exposed prenatally to alcohol were impaired as shown in both hippocampal-dependent spatial/place and striatal-dependent response/cue learning tests. Moreover, the levels of BDNF expression both in the hippocampus and striatum of mice were also decreased. Interestingly, environmental enrichment can ameliorate the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure both on the neurobehavioral and neurotrophic levels. These observations indicated that enriched environment attenuated memory impairment of prenatal alcohol exposure both in hippocampal and striatal circuitry.
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