Brain Canada Brain Canada
FR Donate

DNA methylation signatures in a rat model of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Principal Investigator:
  • Alexandre Lussier, University of British Columbia
  • BC Children's Hospital Research Institute/Child and Family Research Institute

Project Overview

Prenatal alcohol exposure can result in abnormal brain development, causing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), which is linked to a number of cognitive, behavioural, and immune deficits that last across the lifetime. Although the lasting effects of alcohol on development are well studied, the molecular changes causing these deficits remain relatively unknown. Recent evidence suggests that modifications to DNA structure and regulation, known as epigenetic mechanisms, may play a role in the long-term effects of alcohol on the developing brain and could act as a signature of prenatal alcohol exposure. Dr. Lussier’s work presents new evidence for DNA methylation, a small chemical mark added to DNA, as a mechanism in the long-term programming of immune and brain functions. Furthermore, it provides a framework for the use of DNA methylation as a marker of alcohol exposure to diagnose children at-risk for FASD and help lessen some of their long-term problems.