Mimicking maternal smoking and pharmacotherapy of preterm labor: interactions of fetal nicotine and dexamethasone on serotonin and dopamine synaptic function in adolescence and adulthood.
Fetal coexposure to nicotine and dexamethasone is common: maternal smoking increases the incidence of preterm delivery and glucocorticoids are the consensus treatment for prematurity. We gave pregnant rats 3mg/kg/day of nicotine throughout gestation, a regimen that reproduces smokers' plasma levels, and then on gestational days 17, 18 and 19, we administered 0.2mg/kg of dexamethasone. We evaluated developmental indices for serotonin (5HT) and dopamine synaptic function throughout adolescence, young adulthood and later adulthood, assessing the brain regions possessing major 5HT and dopamine projections and cell bodies. Males displayed persistent upregulation of 5HT(1A) and 5HT(2) receptors and the 5HT transporter, with a distinct hierarchy of effects: nicotine
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