Individuals with FAS are at heightened risk for alcohol use disorders;however, this issue has not been experimentally tested with an animal model similar to humans. Moreover, fetal alcohol-exposed children are often conceived within the context of a stressful environment, yet interactions between prenatal alcohol exposure (PN Alc) and prenatal stress (PN Stress) are an understudied yet common condition in children. We have a unique resource of 40 adult rhesus monkeys identical in rearing history and age- and gender-matched across conditions of PN Alc exposure, PN Stress, and the combination of PN Alc and PN Stress exposure. Our first step in this longitudinal study was to describe the behavioral phenotype associated with these PN conditions. In the second step, we assessed dopaminergic function and glucose metabolism underlying the behavioral phenotype using high resolution PET imaging. The third step, proposed in this application, is to determine whether the prenatal treatments create a """"""""self-medicating phenotype"""""""". In other words, our objective is to determine whether monkeys exposed to prenatal perturbations, that we have found to cause altered serotonin and dopamine function, show heightened risk for excessive voluntary alcohol consumption and associated neuroadaptational changes in the brain compared to controls. This will move the field forward, leading to a better understanding of the interrelationships of 5-HT and DA synaptic constituents related to alcohol use disorders and the development of novel therapeutic strategies. Examining groups of anatomical regions which are components of a functional circuit is a valuable path toward identifying a biomarker for a disease. We will employ a state-of-the-art alcohol self-administration paradigm developed by Grant and colleagues (Vivian et al., 2001), which is the gold standard for the field. Our high resolution PET scanner is situated in our animal facility and we have a highly skilled, experienced team of collaborators to ensure rigorous data acquisition and analysis. We will assess neurochemical functioning both at baseline (before drinking) as well as immediately following chronic alcohol self-administration (4%, 22 hr/day for 6 months). We will test whether pre-drinking (baseline) 5-HT1A, D1, and D2 receptor and DA transporter binding predict chronic alcohol consumption levels. Multiple scans with different tracers in the same monkeys will yield a more complete picture of interrelated 5-HT and DA processes before and after chronic alcohol consumption.

Public Health Relevance

Increased knowledge of the neurocircuitry of alcoholism could assist in developing new pharmacological treatments and facilitate shaping interventions to fit subgroups at risk. Moreover, research has shown that early interventions to address the neurodevelopmental needs of children with FASD improve long-term developmental outcomes. Our results would support increased early prevention and interventions that could prevent or reduce alcohol use disorders in FASD children and other children of alcoholics growing up in stressful environments.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Neurotoxicology and Alcohol Study Section (NAL)
Program Officer
Matochik, John A
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Wisconsin Madison
Schools of Education
United States
Zip Code
Schneider, Mary L; Moore, Colleen F; Adkins, Miriam et al. (2017) Sensory Processing in Rhesus Monkeys: Developmental Continuity, Prenatal Treatment, and Genetic Influences. Child Dev 88:183-197
Hillmer, Ansel T; Wooten, Dustin W; Tudorascu, Dana L et al. (2014) The effects of chronic alcohol self-administration on serotonin-1A receptor binding in nonhuman primates. Drug Alcohol Depend 144:119-26
Rajala, Abigail Z; Zaitoun, Ismail; Henriques, Jeffrey B et al. (2014) Dopamine transporter gene susceptibility to methylation is associated with impulsivity in nonhuman primates. J Neurophysiol 112:2138-46
Converse, Alexander K; Moore, Colleen F; Holden, James E et al. (2014) Moderate-level prenatal alcohol exposure induces sex differences in dopamine d1 receptor binding in adult rhesus monkeys. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 38:2934-43
Hillmer, Ansel T; Tudorascu, Dana L; Wooten, Dustin W et al. (2014) Changes in the ?4?2* nicotinic acetylcholine system during chronic controlled alcohol exposure in nonhuman primates. Drug Alcohol Depend 138:216-9
Hillmer, Ansel T; Wooten, Dustin W; Farhoud, Mohammed et al. (2013) The effects of lobeline on ?4?2* nicotinic acetylcholine receptor binding and uptake of [(18)F]nifene in rats. J Neurosci Methods 214:163-9
Christian, Bradley T; Wooten, Dustin W; Hillmer, Ansel T et al. (2013) Serotonin transporter genotype affects serotonin 5-HT1A binding in primates. J Neurosci 33:2512-6
Wooten, Dustin W; Hillmer, Ansel T; Moirano, Jeffrey M et al. (2013) 5-HT1A sex based differences in Bmax, in vivo KD, and BPND in the nonhuman primate. Neuroimage 77:125-32
Murali, D; Barnhart, T E; Vandehey, N T et al. (2013) An efficient synthesis of dopamine transporter tracer [ยน?F]FECNT. Appl Radiat Isot 72:128-32
Schneider, Mary L; Larson, Julie A; Rypstat, Craig W et al. (2013) Moderate-level prenatal alcohol exposure enhances acoustic startle magnitude and disrupts prepulse inhibition in adult rhesus monkeys. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 37:1729-36

Showing the most recent 10 out of 29 publications