Ethanol-mediated DNA damage and PARP-1 apoptotic responses in cultured fetal cortical neurons

Priscilla P. Cherian, Steven Schenker, George I. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Background: Prior studies by many laboratories have illustrated that ethanol can elicit a cascade of caspase-dependent apoptotic events in cultured neurons. Studies in our laboratory have connected this to oxidative stress and effects on fetal cortical neuron glutathione homeostasis. Aims: The intent of the following studies is to address mechanisms underlying ethanol-associated DNA damage that may be connected to apoptotic death of neurons. Methods: Cultures of fetal rat cerebral cortical neurons were utilized. Estimates of DNA damage was determined by Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining and nuclear condensation; Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1) expression was determined by immunostaining and Western blotting; and occurrence of parylation and AIF translocations were assessed by Western blotting. Results: Ethanol treatment of the neurons generated increases in DNA damage by 4 hours while nuclear condensation was low at the short exposure period but increased markedly by 24 hours. This was temporally related to a marked up-regulation of PARP-1 expression. Activity of PARP-1, as assessed by PolyADP-ribose (PAR) formation, occurred within 15 minutes and peaked by 6 to 8 hours of ethanol treatment. An almost complete translocation of apoptosis inducing factor (AIF) from mitochondria to the nucleus occurred by 24 hours of ethanol treatment (4.0 mg/ml). Ethanol treatment for 4, 12, and 24 hours elicited an increasing caspase-mediated cleavage of PARP-1 to its 24 kDa fragment. Conclusions: These data illustrate the rapid occurrence of DNA damage following ethanol exposure and that PARP-1 pathways may play a role in the subsequent apoptotic death of these neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1884-1892
Number of pages9
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • AIF
  • Apoptosis
  • DNA damage
  • Ethanol
  • Neuron
  • Oxidative stress
  • PARP-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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