Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2023

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Basic Biomedical Science

First Advisor

William Mayhan

Second Advisor

Barbara Goodman

Third Advisor

Yohaan Fernandes


FASD, cerebrovascular impairment, alcohol, in utero, rat, behavioral abnormalities

Subject Categories



Maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy can result in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), which describes a range of developmental disorders. The goal of this study was to examine the association between impaired cerebrovascular function and behavioral abnormalities associated with FASD. We fed Sprague-Dawley dams a liquid diet with or without alcohol (3% ethanol) for the duration of their pregnancy. We then performed short-term memory and motor coordination assessments on the offspring during adolescence or adulthood. Next, we examined cerebral arteriole reactivity to the vasodilators nitroglycerin, adenosine diphosphate, N-methyl-D-aspartate, and iloprost. We found impairment in eNOS-, nNOS-, and K-channel-dependent dilation of cerebrovascular arterioles in rats exposed to alcohol in utero. Furthermore, we found short-term memory impairment in those rats, as well as modest motor learning differences in adolescent, alcohol-exposed rats. Based on the findings, we suggest that impaired cerebrovascular function, resulting in decreased blood flow to essential areas of the brain, may contribute to impaired short-term memory and learning differences exhibited by rats exposed to alcohol prenatally.

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