Ethanol exhibits specificity in its effects on differentiation of hematopoietic progenitors

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Ethanol is a known teratogen but the mechanisms by which this simple compound affects fetal development remain unresolved. The goal of the current study was to determine the mechanism by which ethanol affects lymphoid differentiation using an in vitro model of ethanol exposure. Primitive hematopoietic oligoclonal-neonatal-progenitor cells (ONP), with the phenotype Lin(-)HSA(lo)CD43(lo)Sca-1(-)c-Kit(+) that are present in neonatal but not adult bone marrow were sorted from the bone marrow of 2-week-old C57BL/6J mice and cultured under conditions that favor either B cell or myeloid cell differentiation with or without addition of ethanol. The overall growth of the ONP cells was not significantly affected by inclusion of up to 100mM ethanol in the culture medium. However, the differentiation of the progenitor cells along the B-cell pathway was significantly impaired by ethanol in a dose-dependent manner. Exposure of ONP cells to 100mM ethanol resulted in greater than 95% inhibition of B cell differentiation. Conversely, ethanol concentrations up to and including 100mM had no significant effect on differentiation along the myeloid pathway. The effect of ethanol on transcription factor expression was consistent with the effects on differentiation. ONP cells grown in 100mM ethanol failed to upregulate Pax5 and EBF, transcriptional regulators that are necessary for B cell development. However, ethanol had no significant effect on the upregulation of PU.1, a transcription factor that, when expressed in high concentration, favors myeloid cell development. Taken together, these results suggest that ethanol has specificity in its effects on differentiation of hematopoietic progenitors.

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Cellular immunology

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