Fatty acid ethyl esters in meconium: A biomarker of fetal alcohol exposure and effect

Charlie T. Cheng, Enrique M. Ostrea, Joseph N.B. Alviedo, Felix P. Banadera, Ronald L. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


To determine if meconium fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE) in rat pups is a good biomarker of prenatal exposure and effect to alcohol, three groups of pregnant rats were studied: one control (pair fed) and two treatment groups given 25% alcohol at 2.2 or 5.5 g−1 kg−1 d−1. The pups were delivered on day 20 and, for each dam, were separated into a male and female group. The body, brain, intestines, and placenta of the pups were obtained, weighed, and stored at −20°C. The pups’ intestines (as surrogate of meconium) from each group were pooled, and meconium was analyzed by gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy for FAEE. The meconium showed the following FAEE: ethyl palmitate, ethyl stearate, and ethyl linolenate and were only found in the alcohol-treated group and with high specificity but low sensitivity. Mean body weight of the pups was lower in the treatment groups compared to the control groups. Ethyl palmitate concentration correlated negatively to the pups’ mean body and brain weights. Therefore, ethyl palmitate, stearate, and linolenate, in meconium of rat pups prenatally exposed to alcohol, are useful biomarkers of prenatal alcohol exposure, with ethyl palmitate a good biomarker of adverse effect on the pups’ body and brain weight.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-386
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Meconium
  • biomarkers
  • fatty acid ethyl esters
  • fetal alcohol
  • gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy
  • rat pups


Dive into the research topics of 'Fatty acid ethyl esters in meconium: A biomarker of fetal alcohol exposure and effect'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this