Chronic prenatal nicotine exposure sensitizes rat brain to acute postnatal nicotine challenge as assessed with ornithine decarboxylase.
Prenatal exposure to nicotine has been shown to produce postnatal up-regulation of central nervous system nicotinic receptors and to alter subsequent differentiation of neural tissues. In the current study, pregnant rats received nicotine infusions of 6 mg/kg/day throughout gestation, administered by osmotic minipump implants; the postnatal development of cholinergic receptor reactivity was examined through measurements of the ability of acute nicotine administration to stimulate midbrain + brainstem ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity, a key regulatory enzyme in neural cell differentiation and growth. In control rats, the ODC response to nicotine was absent at birth and developed during the second postnatal week in parallel with the known ontogenetic rise of nicotinic receptors. Offspring of the nicotine-infused dams exhibited hyper-reactivity of ODC to postnatal acute nicotine challenge: the response developed earlier than in controls and subsequently the magnitude of the effect was 2-3 times greater. Since the development of cholinergic transmission influences differentiation of target cells, alterations in cholinergic nicotinic receptor mediated responses likely explain the delayed appearance of abnormal cell differentiation associated with prenatal nicotine.
Slotkin, TA; Lappi, SE; Tayyeb, MI; Seidler, FJ
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