Maternal Blood Lipid Biomarkers of Oligodendrocyte Pathology to Predict Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Author(s): Nune Darbinian, Emily C. Sparks, Armine Darbinyan, Nana Merabova, Gabriel Tatevosian, Ekaterina Vadachkoria, Huaqing Zhao, Shohreh Amini, Laura Goetzl, Michael E. Selzer


Up to 9.9% of children have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), the most frequent cause of intellectual disability in the US. FASD may involve abnormal brain development, including dysmyelination, suggesting abnormal development of oligodendrocytes (OLs), which make myelin and are rich in lipids. Indeed, low serum levels of omega-3 fatty acids (ω-3) have been reported in FASD. Free fatty acids bind to specific receptors (FFARs). We have isolated cell type-specific fetal brain-derived exosomes (FB-E) from maternal blood and sampled their contents to search for lipid-related biomarkers that predict FASD.


Blood samples were collected from two groups of pregnant women: 1) those who consumed EtOH during pregnancy, and 2) non- EtOH using controls, under an IRB-approved protocol. Serum and OLderived exosomes (OL-Es) were used to assay myelin basic protein (MBP) and FFAR by ELISA and droplet digital PCR (ddPCR), respectively.


FFAR and MBP proteins were downregulated in the EtOH group compared to controls, and this difference was greatest in OL-Es from maternal blood compared maternal serum.


MBP and FFAR levels were reduced in OL-Es from EtOHconsuming pregnant women. The data suggest potential therapeutic targets to predict which children are at risk for developing FASD and reduce dysmyelination in developing.

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