Supraphysiological acetaldehyde levels suppress growth in chicken embryos

Michael W. Hartl, Ivan A. Shibley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Although exposure to ethanol is known to cause growth inhibition in a developing embryo, the contributing effect of acetaldehyde on growth is not as well documented. In this study, we measured acetaldehyde-induced growth suppression in three different chicken strains: Peterson x Hubbard, HY x Hubbard, and W36 Ginther White Leghorn. The chicken embryo provides a useful model for studying fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and has been used extensively in our laboratory. The current study was undertaken to determine whether the chicken embryo could serve as a model for studying the effects of acetaldehyde on growth. Acetaldehyde caused a significant reduction in embryonic weights only at the higher acetaldehyde concentrations. Torso-to-head ratios were unchanged at every acetaldehyde dose for all strains, supporting the suggestion that acetaldehyde-induced growth suppression was generalized in all tissues, rather than being exhibited as a selective decrease of neuronal tissue. All strains experienced a significant decrease in viability only at higher acetaldehyde concentrations, but differences in viability were evident among the strains. These results support findings obtained from previous work done on ethanol-induced differences among chicken strains by supporting the suggestion that the strain of chicken is important when studying the effects of teratogens on growth and viability. More importantly, the supraphysiological concentrations of acetaldehyde necessary to induce growth suppression seem to indicate that the chicken embryo may not be a viable model of FAS for studying the direct effects of acetaldehyde on embryonic growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-115
Number of pages5
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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