Acute effects of cocaine on ornithine decarboxylase activity in fetal and neonatal rat heart: evidence for cardiotoxicity.
Fetal exposure to cocaine is associated with increased perinatal cardiac risk. In the current study, we examined the effects of acute cocaine administration on ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity in fetal and neonatal rat heart. ODC is a key regulatory enzyme in the control of cell differentiation and growth, and rapid changes in ODC are associated with the response to cell injury. Administration of 30 mg/kg s.c. of cocaine to pregnant rats on the 20th day of gestation caused acute elevation of fetal cardiac ODC that persisted throughout the ensuing 24 h. In contrast, the same dose given directly to neonatal rats the day after birth evoked only a short-term (1-h) stimulation of ODC that was reversed by 4 h after treatment. By 4 days of age and subsequently, cocaine was unable to elicit acute stimulation of heart ODC and only evoked inhibition of enzyme activity. Elevated progesterone levels during pregnancy have been shown to sensitize the maternal myocardium to cocaine-induced catecholaminergic effects; the greater sensitivity of fetal heart ODC to cocaine, as compared to neonatal heart, supports the hypothesis that similar enhancement of fetal cardiac irritability can contribute to cocaine-induced cell damage.
Slotkin, TA; Johnson, DJ; Seidler, FJ
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