Increased nicotine self-administration following prenatal exposure in female rats.
There is a significant association between maternal cigarette smoking during pregnancy and greater subsequent risk of smoking in female offspring. In animal models, prenatal nicotine exposure causes persistent alterations in cholinergic and monoaminergic systems, both of which are important for nicotine actions underlying tobacco addiction. Accordingly, the current study was conducted to determine if there is a cause-and-effect relationship between prenatal nicotine exposure and nicotine self-administration starting in adolescence. Pregnant rats were administered nicotine (6 mg/kg/day) by osmotic minipump infusion throughout gestation and then, beginning in adolescence and continuing into adulthood, female offspring were given access to nicotine via a standard operant IV self-administration procedure (0.03 mg/kg/infusion). Gestational nicotine exposure did not alter the initial rate of nicotine self-administration. However, when animals underwent one week of forced abstinence and then had a second opportunity to self-administer nicotine, the prenatally-exposed animals showed a significantly greater rate of self-administration than did the controls. Prenatal nicotine exposure causes increased nicotine self-administration, which is revealed only when the animals are allowed to experience a period of nicotine abstinence. This supports a cause-and-effect relationship between the higher rates of smoking in the daughters of women who smoke cigarettes during pregnancy and implicates a role for nicotine in this effect. Our results further characterize the long-term liabilities of maternal smoking but also point to the potential liabilities of nicotine-based treatments for smoking cessation during pregnancy.
Levin, ED; Lawrence, S; Petro, A; Horton, K; Seidler, FJ; Slotkin, TA
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