Fetal ethanol exposure increases ethanol intake by making it smell and taste better

Steven Youngentob, John I. Glendinning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

60 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Human epidemiologic studies reveal that fetal ethanol exposure is highly predictive of adolescent ethanol avidity and abuse. Little is known about how fetal exposure produces these effects. It is hypothesized that fetal ethanol exposure results in stimulusinduced chemosensory plasticity. Here, we asked whether gestational ethanol exposure increases postnatal ethanol avidity in rats by altering its taste and odor. Experimental rats were exposed to ethanol in utero via the dam's diet, whereas control rats were either pair-fed an iso-caloric diet or given food ad libitum. We found that fetal ethanol exposure increased the taste-mediated acceptability of both ethanol and quinine hydrochloride (bitter), but not sucrose (sweet). Importantly, a significant proportion of the increased ethanol acceptability could be attributed directly to the attenuated aversion to ethanol's quinine-like taste quality. Fetal ethanol exposure also enhanced ethanol intake and the behavioral response to ethanol odor. Notably, the elevated intake of ethanol was also causally linked to the enhanced odor response. Our results demonstrate that fetal exposure specifically increases ethanol avidity by, in part, making it taste and smell better. More generally, they establish an epigenetic chemosensory mechanism by which maternal patterns of drug use can be transferred to offspring. Given that many licit (e.g., tobacco products) and illicit (e.g., marijuana) drugs have noteworthy chemosensory components, our findings have broad implications for the relationship between maternal patterns of drug use, child development, and postnatal vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5359-5364
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume106
Issue number13
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 31 2009
Externally publishedYes

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Smell
Ethanol
Quinine
Mothers
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Diet
Cannabis
Child Development
Epigenomics
Tobacco Products
Sucrose

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Cite this

Fetal ethanol exposure increases ethanol intake by making it smell and taste better. / Youngentob, Steven; Glendinning, John I.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 106, No. 13, 31.03.2009, p. 5359-5364.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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