Low-dose chronic prenatal alcohol exposure abolishes the pro-cognitive effects of angiotensin IV
Prenatal ethanol exposure (PAE) in humans results in a spectrum of disorders including deficits in learning and memory. Animal models to date have typically used high ethanol doses but have not identified the biochemical changes underlying the cognitive deficit. This study used treatment of mouse breeding harems with 5% ethanol via drinking water throughout pregnancy and lactation and explored the behavioural consequences in the progeny at 3–6 months of age using the open field test, novel object recognition test and elevated plus maze to measure anxiety and memory consolidation. The effects of angiotensin IV on behaviour of the progeny were also determined. The results indicated that PAE increased anxiety-like behaviour as determined in the open field test in male but not female progeny. In control animals, angiotensin IV enhanced memory consolidation in males, but this effect was abolished by PAE. The abolition of the pro-cognitive effect of angiotensin IV was not a consequence of increased anxiety, and there was some evidence of a long-lasting anxiolytic effect of angiotensin IV in the male PAE progeny. These results suggest that PAE may act via alteration of the actions of the brain renin-angiotensin system to impair memory consolidation, but these effects may be partially sex-dependent.