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Behavioral effects of neonatal nicotine exposure

Institution: San Diego State University Research Foundation
Investigator(s): Edward Riley, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2000 (Cycle 9) Grant #: 9RT-0012 Award: $624,780
Subject Area: Nicotine Dependence
Award Type: Research Project Awards
Abstracts

Initial Award Abstract
Cigarette smoking during pregnancy has been associated with higher rates of spontaneous abortions, intrauterine growth retardation, and an increased risk for birth defects. In addition, behavioral problems, such as hyperactivity, decreased attention, and lower IQ in the offspring of smoking mothers suggest that nicotine also has negative effects on the development of the brain. In fact, research suggests that nicotine exposure during development may have more detrimental effects on the developing brain than other drugs of abuse, such as cocaine. However, the exact cause and effect relationship between maternal smoking and the negative effects of nicotine on the human brain is difficult to study because of several confounding factors such as: nutrition, the mother’s health and social environment, and the potential presence of other toxic substances. In many ways the development of many mammalian brains is similar to the development of the human brain. Therefore, one can utilize animal models of nicotine exposure to better our understanding of nicotine's effects on the developing fetus because of the strict environmental control available. The previous submission of this application focused on developing an animal model of nicotine exposure during the equivalent of the last trimester of pregnancy, the time when the brain is undergoing a period of rapid development. The potential toxic effect of nicotine exposure during pregnancy was evaluated using brain wave measurements [electroencephalography (EEG) and event-related potentials (ERPs)] and behavioral tests. Differences in the brain wave measurements were found in the hippocampus, a brain area crucial for learning and memory. Behaviorally, the animals were overactive, an effect consistent with damage to this brain area. The experiments proposed in the current application utilize this third trimester model and are designed to assess alterations in other behaviors that rely on the integrity of this brain area. Furthermore, we will explore how early nicotine exposure influences chemical systems in the brain, as well as, anatomical changes in the hippocampus. These studies may help to identify which brain systems may be particularly affected by early life nicotine exposure, and lay the foundation for identifying the causes of tobacco-related problems in the newborn.
Publications

Neonatal nicotine exposure alters hippocampal EEG and event-related potentials (ERPs) in rats
Periodical: Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior Index Medicus:
Authors: Slawecki CJ, Thomas JD, Riley EP, Ehlers CL ART
Yr: 2000 Vol: 65 Nbr: Abs: Pg: 711-718

Nicotine exposure during the neonatal brain growth spurt produces hyperactivity in preweaning rats
Periodical: Neurotoxicology and Teratology Index Medicus:
Authors: Thomas JD, Garrison ME, Slawecki CJ, Ehlers CL, Riley EP ART
Yr: 2000 Vol: 22 Nbr: Abs: Pg: 695-701