Changes in brain glucose levels and glucose transporter protein isoforms in alcohol- or nicotine-treated chick embryos

L. Will Eckstein, Ivan A. Shibley, J. Sue Pennington, F. Melinda Carver, Sam N. Pennington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Suppression of fetal brain growth during pregnancy as the result of maternal smoking or alcohol consumption leads to significant problems for the offspring as well as for the society who must care for these individuals. Chronic maternal intake of cigarette smoke is frequently observed in humans and studies using animal models suggest that in utero nicotine exposure is an important component of the growth suppression that results. Similarly, maternal consumption of alcohol (ethanol) has a profound, negative effect on fetal growth. The developing fetal central nervous system (CNS) is sensitive to the growth inhibitory effect of nicotine or alcohol and morphological as well as functional CNS deficits may result from fetal exposure. Using an embryonic chick model which minimizes drug-induced changes in maternal nutrition and behavior, the studies presented here indicate that nicotine or alcohol exposure during early embryonic development inhibits brain growth to a degree comparable to that seen in the rest of the organism, i.e., there was no 'brain sparing' in this model. Glucose content per milligram tissue was markedly decreased in brains of the nicotine-treated embryos but was not significantly different in the alcohol-exposed embryos. Western blots of fetal brain glucose transporter protein isoforms showed no change in the Glut 3 transporter content in the growth suppressed brains compared to vehicle- treated brains. The Glut 1 55 kilodalton (kd) isoform protein content was significantly decreased in the nicotine-treated brains but unchanged in the ethanol-treated brains, while the reverse was tree for the Glut 1 45 kd isoform. Thus, the changes in the 55 kd isoform protein content were correlated with tissue glucose levels in the ethanol- and nicotine-treated embryos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-65
Number of pages7
JournalDevelopmental Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 20 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology

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