Ethanol induces severe alterations in membrane trafficking in hepatocytes and astrocytes, the molecular basis of which is unclear. One of the main candidates is the cytoskeleton and the molecular components that regulate its organization and dynamics. Here, we examine the effect of chronic exposure to ethanol on the organization and dynamics of actin and microtubule cytoskeletons and glucose uptake in rat astrocytes. Ethanol-treated cells cultured in either the presence or absence of fetal calf serum showed a significant increase in 2-deoxyglucose uptake. Ethanol also caused alterations in actin organization, consisting of the dissolution of stress fibres and the appearance of circular filaments beneath the plasma membrane. When lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), which is a normal constituent of serum and a potent intercellular lipid mediator with growth factor and actin rearrangement activities, was added to ethanol-treated astrocytes cultured without fetal calf serum, it induced the re-appearance of actin stress fibres and the normalization of 2-deoxyglucose uptake. Furthermore, ethanol also perturbed the microtubule dynamics, which delayed the recovery of the normal microtubule organization following removal of the microtubule-disrupting agent nocodazole. Again, pre-treatment with LPA prevented this alteration. Ethanol-treated rodent fibroblast NIH3T3 cells that constitutively express an activated Rho mutant protein (GTP-bound form) were insensitive to ethanol, as they showed no alteration either in actin stress-fibre organization or in 2-deoxyglucose uptake. We discuss the putative signalling targets by which ethanol could alter the cytoskeleton and hexose uptake and the cytoprotective effect of LPA against ethanol-induced damages. The latter opens the possibility that LPA or a similar non-hydrolysable lipid derivative could be used as a cytoprotective agent against the noxious effects of ethanol.
- Rho GTPases
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience