Pre-conceptional and peri-gestational maternal Binge Alcohol Drinking produces inheritance of mood disturbances and alcohol vulnerability in the adolescent offspring

Anna Brancato, Valentina Castelli, Angela Cavallaro, Gianluca Lavanco, Fulvio Plescia, Carla Cannizzaro
Front. Psychiatry. 2018-04-23; 9:
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00150

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Although binge drinking is on the rise in women of reproductive age and during
pregnancy, the consequences in the offspring, in particular the inheritance of
alcohol-related mood disturbances and alcohol abuse vulnerability, are still
poorly investigated. In this study, we modeled both Habitual- and Binge Alcohol
Drinking (HAD and BAD) in female rats by employing a two-bottle choice paradigm,
with 20% alcohol and water. The exposure started 12 weeks before pregnancy and
continued during gestation and lactation. The consequences induced by the two
alcohol drinking patterns in female rats were assessed before conception in terms
of behavioral reactivity, anxiety- and depressive-like behavior. Afterwards, from
adolescence to young-adulthood, male offspring was assessed for behavioral
phenotype and alcohol abuse vulnerability. At pre-conceptional time BAD female
rats showed higher mean alcohol intake and preference than HAD group; differences
in drinking trajectories were attenuated during pregnancy and lactation.
Pre-conceptional BAD induced a prevalent depressive/anhedonic-like behavior in
female rats, rather than an increase in anxiety-like behavior, as observed in HAD
rats. In the adolescent offspring, peri-gestational BAD did not affect behavioral
reactivity in the open field and anxiety-like behavior in the elevated plus maze.
Rather, BAD dams offspring displayed higher despair-behavior and lower social
interaction with respect to control- and HAD dams progeny. Notably, only binge
drinking exposure increased offspring vulnerability to alcohol abuse and relapse
following forced abstinence. This is the first report showing that binge-like
alcohol consumption from pre-conceptional until weaning induces relevant
consequences in the affective phenotype of both the mothers and the offspring,
and that such effects include heightened alcohol abuse vulnerability in the
offspring. These findings highlight the need for more incisive public education
campaigns about detrimental consequences of peri-gestational alcohol exposure.

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