Intrauterine alcohol exposure delays growth and disturbs trabecular morphology in 3-week-old Sprague - Dawley rat femur

Diana S. Pillay*, Robert Ndou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The consequence of gestational alcohol exposure ranges from stillbirth to miscarriage and fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS is one of the deleterious causes of congenital disabilities, mental and growth retardation. Several studies suggest that low birth weight and impaired bone growth, as well as a decrease in mineralization in utero, may reduce peak bone mass and increase the risk of fractures and osteoporosis later in life. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the effects of intrauterine alcohol exposure on the internal architecture of the femur. Material and Methods: Time-mated (n = 13) pregnant Sprague - Dawley dams were assigned to either the ethanol (n = 5), saline control (n = 5) or untreated control (n = 3) group. The former two groups were treated with 0.015 ml/g of 25.2% ethanol and 0.9% saline for the first 19 days of gestation, respectively. The untreated group received no treatment. Once born, the pups were weaned at 21 days. These rats were then terminated. From each dam, two pups were collected resulting in ethanol (n = 10), saline controls (n = 10), and untreated controls (n = 6). The femora of the pups were dissected and scanned using a 3D-μCT scanner (Nikon XTH 225 L) at 15 μm resolution. Trabecular and cortical parameters were analyzed using Volume Graphics Studio ® software following reconstruction. Results: We found altered trabecular parameters in the alcohol exposed group. The diaphyseal cortical and medullary cavity proportions were also affected, particularly in the midshaft. Discussion and Conclusion: These results indicate that gestational alcohol exposure may lower bone structural quality by disturbing the internal morphology of the osseous tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-101
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Anatomical Society of India
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • Cortical thickness
  • femur
  • gestational alcohol
  • internal morphology
  • trabeculae


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