Fetal alcohol exposure alters serotonin transporter sites in rat brain

Hannah Zafar, Suresh G. Shelat, Eva Redei, Shanaz Tejani-Butt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


This study examined the effects of fetal alcohol exposure (FAE) on serotonin transporter (5-HTT) binding sites in the brains of developing male and female rat offspring using the technique of quantitative autoradiography. Time-pregnant dams were fed liquid ethanol diet, isocaloric diet without ethanol or normal rat chow. Male and female offspring were sacrificed at 21, 40 and 60 days of age, brains removed and sectioned for analysis of 5-HTT sites. FAE led to distinct effects on 5-HTT sites depending on the age and gender of the offspring. FAE increased 5-HTT binding sites in cortical layers 5, 6, hippocampal layers CA2,3, lateral nucleus of the amygdala and in the dorsal raphe nucleus. FAE decreased 5-HTT binding sites in the medial nucleus of amygdala, dorsomedial and ventromedial nuclei of the hypothalamus. FAE decreased 5-HTT binding sites temporarily in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus in the 21-day-old female; this effect was found to disappear by day 40. In contrast, FAE increased 5-HTT sites in the lateral nucleus of the amygdala in the adult animal, suggesting that ethanol exposure in utero may alter serotonin neurotransmission in discrete brain regions permanently. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-192
Number of pages9
JournalBrain research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2000


  • Central nervous system
  • Female
  • Fetal alcohol exposure
  • Male
  • Quantitative autoradiography
  • Serotonin transporter site

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology

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