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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2014 Dec;38(12):2934-43. doi: 10.1111/acer.12575.

Moderate-level prenatal alcohol exposure induces sex differences in dopamine d1 receptor binding in adult rhesus monkeys.

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  • 1Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.



We examined the effects of moderate prenatal alcohol exposure and/or prenatal stress exposure on (D1 R) binding in a non human primate model. The dopamine D1 R is involved in executive function, and it may play a role in cognitive behavioral deficits associated with prenatal alcohol and/or stress exposure. Little is known, however, about the effects of prenatal alcohol and/or stress exposure on the D1 R. We expected that prenatal insults would lead to alterations in D1 R binding in prefrontal cortex (PFC) and striatum in adulthood.


Rhesus macaque females were randomly assigned to moderate alcohol exposure and/or mild prenatal stress as well as a control condition during pregnancy. Thirty-eight offspring were raised identically and studied as adults by noninvasive in vivo neuroimaging using positron emission tomography with the D1 antagonist radiotracer [(11) C]SCH 23390. Radiotracer binding in PFC and striatum was evaluated by 2 (alcohol) × 2 (stress) × 2 (sex) analysis of variance.


In PFC, a significant alcohol × sex interaction was observed with prenatal alcohol exposure leading to increased [(11) C]SCH 23390 binding in male monkeys. No main effect of prenatal alcohol or prenatal stress exposure was observed.


These results suggest that prenatal alcohol exposure results in long-term increases in prefrontal dopamine D1 R binding in males. This may help explain gender differences in the prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders consequent to prenatal alcohol exposure.

Copyright © 2015 by the Research Society on Alcoholism.


Dopamine D1 Receptor; Prenatal Alcohol; Prenatal Stress; Rhesus Macaque; Sex Differences

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