N-Docosahexaenoylethanolamine ameliorates ethanol-induced impairment of neural stem cell neurogenic differentiation

Mohammad Abdur Rashid, Hee Yong Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Previous studies demonstrated that prenatal exposure to ethanol interferes with embryonic and fetal development, and causes abnormal neurodevelopment. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid highly enriched in the brain, was shown to be essential for proper brain development and function. Recently, we found that N-docosahexenoyethanolamine (synaptamide), an endogenous metabolite of DHA, is a potent PKA-dependent neurogenic factor for neural stem cell (NSC) differentiation. In this study, we demonstrate that ethanol at pharmacologically relevant concentrations downregulates cAMP signaling in NSC and impairs neurogenic differentiation. In contrast, synaptamide reverses ethanol-impaired NSC neurogenic differentiation through counter-acting on the cAMP production system. NSC exposure to ethanol (25-50 mM) for 4 days dose-dependently decreased the number of Tuj-1 positive neurons and PKA/CREB phosphorylation with a concomitant reduction of cellular cAMP. Ethanol-induced cAMP reduction was accompanied by the inhibition of G-protein activation and expression of adenylyl cyclase (AC) 7 and AC8, as well as PDE4 upregulation. In contrast to ethanol, synaptamide increased cAMP production, GTPγS binding, and expression of AC7 and AC8 isoforms in a cAMP-dependent manner, offsetting the ethanol-induced impairment in neurogenic differentiation. These results indicate that synaptamide can reduce ethanol-induced impairment of neuronal differentiation by counter-affecting shared targets in G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR)/cAMP signaling. The synaptamide-mediated mechanism observed in this study may offer a possible avenue for ameliorating the adverse impact of fetal alcohol exposure on neurodevelopment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-185
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Authors wish to thank Dr. Jiwon Lee for technical assistance with GTPγS binding assay, Dr. Bill X. Huang for graphics and Dr. Arthur A. Spector for editorial help. This work was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd.


  • Adenylyl cyclase
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3)
  • G-protein
  • Neurogenesis
  • Synaptamide
  • cAMP


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