In utero exposure to ethanol alters mRNA for insulin-like growth factors and insulin-like growth factor-binding proteins in placenta and lung of fetal rats

Nabil Fatayerji, Gary L. Engelmann, Thomas Myers, Robert J. Handa

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23 Scopus citations


Insulin-like growth factors I and II (IGF-I and IGF-II) play a role in regulating fetal growth and development. Their actions in target tissues are modulated in part by binding to IGF binding proteins 1 and 2 (IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-2). In this study, we examined the effect of fatal exposure to alcohol on IGF-I and IGF-II and IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-2 mRNA in placenta and fetal lung tissue. Timed-pregnant Sprague-Dawley dams were fed a diet consisting of 35% ethanol-derived calories [alcohol-fed (AF)], an isocaloric diet with sucrose substituted for alcohol (pair-fed; PF), or ad libitum rat chow (CF). Alcohol feeding began on gestational age (G) 14. At G20, dams were killed, and we examined placenta and fetal lung for the steady-state levels of mRNA for IGF- 1 and IGF-II and for IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-2. In all dams, body weight increased throughout gestation, and there were no differences between the three groups. At G20, the mean weight for the fetuses from the AF group was lower (p < 0.001) than the return from the CF and PF groups. Steady-state mRNA levels were detected in fetal lung and in placentas by Northern-blot hybridization analysis and semiquantitated by slot-blot hybridization analysis. Multiple transcripts for IGF-I and IGF-II, 1.8 kb species for IGFBP-1 and 1.6 kb species for IGFBP-2 were detected from total RNA isolated from the fetal lung and placenta. Slot-blot hybridization analysis of fetal lung RNA showed that IGF-I mRNA was significantly increased (p < 0.001) in AF males and females by 4.0 ± 0.28-fold and by 3.25 ± 0.2-fold, respectively. IGF-II transcript levels were not affected. IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-2 were increased in AF males, whereas only IGFBP-2 was increased in AF females. In the placenta, there was a significant increase in IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-2 transcripts [(p < 0.001) 1.75 ± 0.5-fold and 3 ± 0.53-fold increase, respectively]. No differences between the groups in serum levels of IGFBP-1 or -2 were detected when measured by Western-blot analysis. The increased gene expression for IGFBPs within fetal lung and placenta may decrease bioavailability of locally synthesized IGFs that may contribute to the fetal growth retardation observed in this model system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-100
Number of pages7
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 14 1996
Externally publishedYes



  • Alcohol
  • Fetus
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor
  • mRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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