Maternal ethanol consumption reduces Se antioxidant function in placenta and liver of embryos and breastfeeding pups

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The fetal alcohol exposition during pregnancy leads to different disorders in offspring, related to the oxidative stress generated by alcohol. It is well-documented that there is an impairment of the antioxidant selenoprotein Glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activity in ethanol offspring during the embryo period, although no-one has described Selenium (Se) status. The aim is to analyze for the first time Se deposits in vivo and Se's biological implication in embryos and placenta after alcohol exposure and in offspring whose mothers continued to drink ethanol during lactation.

Materials and methods:

Se deposits, GPx and glutathione reductase (GR) activity, lipid and protein oxidation and the expression of GPx1 were measured in placenta and liver of both embryos (E-19) and breastfeeding pups (L-21) in control and ethanol groups (20% v/v).

Key findings:

Ethanol consumption decreased Se deposits, GPx activity and GPx1 expression, while increasing biomolecular oxidation in placenta and in the liver of E-19 and L-21. The GR/GPx ratio decreased in placenta and in E-19, together with an increase in lipid oxidation, while increased in the liver of L-21 pups with protein oxidation. Ethanol also decreased the GPx1 expression/GPx activity ratio in the liver of E-19 and L-21, indicating that alcohol decreases GPx activity by both depleting Se deposits and promoting GPx inactivation. In placenta GPx activity is proportional to the GPx1 expression found, so the ethanol affects GPx activity in offspring more than in dams.


Therefore, Se supplementation therapy in dams could contribute as an interesting antioxidant that prevents fetal alcohol syndrome.

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