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Chronic alcohol consumption from adolescence-to-adulthood in mice - hypothalamic gene expression changes in the dilated cardiomyopathy signaling pathway

Hong Zou12, Ke Wang34, Yang Gao3, Huaiguang Song3, Qinglian Xie1, Meilei Jin1, Guoping Zhao1235*, Huasheng Xiao3* and Lei Yu6*

Author Affiliations

1 Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China

2 State Key Laboratory of Genetic Engineering, Department of Microbiology, School of Life Sciences and Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

3 Shanghai-MOST Key Laboratory of Disease and Health Genomics, Chinese National Human Genome Center at Shanghai, National Engineering Research Center for Biochip at Shanghai, Shanghai, China

4 Shu Guang Hospital affiliated with the Shanghai Traditional Medicine University, Shanghai, China

5 Department of Microbiology and Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong, SAR, China

6 Department of Genetics & Center of Alcohol Studies, Rutgers University, 607 Allison Road, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA

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BMC Neuroscience 2014, 15:61  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-15-61

Published: 9 May 2014



Adolescence is a developmental stage vulnerable to alcohol drinking-related problems and the onset of alcoholism. Hypothalamus is a key brain region for food and water intake regulation, and is one of the alcohol-sensitive brain regions. However, it is not known what would be the alcohol effect on hypothalamus following adolescent alcohol intake, chronically over the adolescent development, at moderate levels.


We employed a paradigm of chronic moderate alcohol intake from adolescence-to-adulthood in mice, and analyzed the alcohol effect on both behavioral and hypothalamic gene expression changes. A total of 751 genes were found and subjected to pathway analysis. The dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) pathway was identified. The changes of ten genes under this pathway were further verified using RT-PCR. Chronic alcohol consumption during adolescence, even at moderate levels, led to a decrease of motor activity in mice, and also a concerted down regulation of signaling pathway initiating factor (SPIF) genes in the DCM signaling pathway, including β1-adrenergic receptor (Adrb1), Gs protein (Gnas), adenylyl cyclase 1 (Adcy1), and dihydropyridine receptor/L-type calcium channel (Cacna1d).


These findings suggest that adolescent alcohol intake may trigger gene expression changes in the CNS that parallel those found in the dilated cardiomyopathy signaling pathway. If such effects also take place in humans, our findings would serve as a warning against alcohol intake in youth, such as by teens and/or college students.

Chronic alcohol drinking; Self-administration; Adolescence; Mice; Gene expression; Hypothalamus