Intrauterine alcohol exposure disturbs trabecular morphology in the sprague dawley rat humerus epiphysis up to 3-weeks postnatally

Diana Pillay*, Robert Ndou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


SUMMARY: Gestational alcohol exposure inhibits neurological as well as bone growth and development both in fetal and postnatal life. Stunted stature, osteoporosis and fractures in adult life are some of the adverse effects. While the impact of intrauterine alcohol on the brain has been extensively investigated, studies on the effects on bone are relatively few. Therefore, our study aimed to examine the impact of prenatal alcohol exposure on bone microarchitecture in 3-week-old rats using Micro-focus X-Ray Computed Tomography (Micro CT). Time mated pregnant Sprague Dawley dams (13) were randomly placed into 3 groups: ethanol (n=5), saline control (n=5) and untreated control (n=3). The former 2 groups received treatment with 0.015ml/g of 25.2 % ethanol and 0.9 % saline, respectively, for the first 19 days of gestation. The untreated group received no treatment. The pups remained with their dams until termination at 21 days of age. From each dam, 2 pups were collected resulting in: ethanol (n=10), saline controls (n= 10) and untreated controls (n = 6). The humeri of the pups were dissected and scanned using a 3D-µCT scanner (Nikon XTH 225L) at 15µm resolution. Trabecular and cortical parameters were analysed using Volume Graphics Studio® software following reconstruction. Results showed a decrease in trabecular size, spaces, thickness, and volume. There was a decrease in cortical bone area in the ethanol group compared to the controls. These findings may suggest that osteoporosis and fractures seen as gestational alcohol effects may be due to compromised trabecular structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1436-1442
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Morphology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Humerus
  • Microarchitecture
  • Osteoporosis
  • Prenatal alcohol
  • Trabeculae


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