Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Department of



Date of this Version


Document Type



2019 by the authors.


Biomolecules 2019, 9, 669; doi:10.3390/biom9110669


NRF2 is a redox-sensitive transcription factor that depending on the duration or magnitude of the stress, either translocates to the nucleus (beneficial) or is degraded in the cytosol (harmful). However, the role of NRF2-based mechanism(s) under ethanol (E)-induced developmental toxicity in the placental context remains unknown. Here, we used a rat prenatal model of maternal alcohol stress consisting of intermittent ethanol vapor (IEV) daily from GD11 to GD20 with a 6 h ON/18 h OFF in a vapor chamber and in vitro placental model consisting of HTR-8 trophoblasts exposed to 86 mM of E for either 24 h or 48 h. The role of NRF2 was evaluated through the NRF2-transactivation reporter assay, qRT-PCR, and Western blotting for NRF2 and cell growth-promoting protein, and cell proliferation assay. In utero and in vitro E decreased the nuclear NRF2 content and diminished its transactivation ability along with dysregulation of the proliferation indices, PCNA, CYCLIN-D1, and p21. This was associated with a ~50% reduction in cell proliferation in vitro in trophoblasts. Interestingly, this was found to be partially rescued by ectopic Nrf2 overexpression. These results indicate that ethanol-induced dysregulation of NRF2 coordinately regulates PCNA/CYCLIN-D1/p21 involving growth network, at least partially to set a stage for placental perturbations.