Fetal ethanol exposure disrupts the daily rhythms of splenic granzyme B, IFN-γ, and NK cell cytotoxicity in adulthood

Alvaro Arjona, Nadka Boyadjieva, Peter Kuhn, Dipak K. Sarkar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Circadian (and daily) rhythms are physiological events that oscillate with a 24-hour period. Circadian disruptions may hamper the immune response against infection and cancer. Several immune mechanisms, such as natural killer (NK) cell function, follow a daily rhythm. Although ethanol is known to be a potent toxin for many systems in the developing fetus, including the immune system, the long-term effects of fetal ethanol exposure on circadian immune function have not been explored. Methods: Daily rhythms of cytotoxic factors (granzyme B and perforin), interferon-γ (IFN-γ), and NK cell cytotoxic activity were determined in the spleens of adult male rats obtained from mothers who were fed during pregnancy with chow food or an ethanol-containing liquid diet or pair-fed an isocaloric liquid diet. Results: We found that adult rats exposed to ethanol during their fetal life showed a significant alteration in the physiological rhythms of granzyme B and IFN-γ that was associated with decreased NK cell cytotoxic activity. Conclusion: These data suggest that fetal ethanol exposure causes a permanent alteration of specific immune rhythms that may in part underlie the immune impairment observed in children prenatally exposed to alcohol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1039-1044
Number of pages6
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Fetal Ethanol Exposure
  • Granzyme B
  • IFN-γ
  • NK Cell Cytotoxicity

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