Weeks, O et al. J. Clin. Invest. https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI132139 (2020)
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) result from prenatal alcohol exposure and affect 1–5% of US school-age children. Patients with FASD present with distinctive features such as facial characteristics, microcephaly, cognitive deficits, and organ malformations, but the metabolic effects of the condition are not well understood. A study used zebrafish to model FASD and assess the metabolic consequences of embryonic alcohol exposure (EAE) in fish fed a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet. EAE zebrafish had more features of metabolic syndrome (MS) such as visceral adiposity, elevated BMI and fasting hyperglycemia than control zebrafish which were not exposed to ethanol. The findings also suggest that reduced locomotor activity, abnormal hepatic development, and transcriptional changes drive MS development in FASD.