Simultaneous prenatal ethanol and nicotine exposure affect ethanol consumption, ethanol preference and oxytocin receptor binding in adolescent and adult rats.

Curriculum in Neurobiology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
Neurotoxicology and Teratology (Impact Factor: 3.22). 07/2009; 31(5):291-302. DOI: 10.1016/
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Ethanol consumption and smoking during pregnancy are common, despite the known adverse effects on the fetus. The teratogenicity of each drug independently is well established; however, the effects of concurrent exposure to ethanol and nicotine in preclinical models remain unclear. This study examined the impact of simultaneous prenatal exposure to both ethanol and nicotine on offspring ethanol preference behaviors and oxytocin system dynamics. Rat dams were given liquid diet (17% ethanol derived calories (EDC)) on gestational day (GD) 5 and 35% EDC from GD 6-20 and concurrently an osmotic minipump delivered nicotine (3-6mg/kg/day) from GD 4-postpartum day 10. Offspring were tested for ethanol preference during adolescence (postnatal day (PND) 30-43) and again at adulthood (PND 60-73), followed by assays for oxytocin mRNA expression and receptor binding in relevant brain regions. Prenatal exposure decreased ethanol preference in males during adolescence, and decreased consumption and preference in females during adulthood compared to controls. Oxytocin receptor binding in the nucleus accumbens and hippocampus was increased in adult prenatally exposed males only. Prenatal exposure to these drugs sex-specifically decreased ethanol preference behavior in offspring unlike reports for either drug separately. The possible role of oxytocin in reduction of ethanol consumption behavior is highlighted.

1 Follower
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Oxytocin (OT), the main neuropeptide of sociality, is expressed in neurons exclusively localized in the hypothalamus. During the last decade, a plethora of neuroendocrine, metabolic, autonomic and behavioral effects of OT has been reported. In the urgency to find treatments to syndromes as invalidating as autism, many clinical trials have been launched in which OT is administered to patients, including adolescents and children. However, the impact of OT on the developing brain and in particular on the embryonic and early postnatal maturation of OT neurons, has been only poorly investigated. In the present review we summarize available (although limited) literature on general features of ontogenetic transformation of the OT system, including determination, migration and differentiation of OT neurons. Next, we discuss trajectories of OT receptors (OTR) in the perinatal period. Furthermore, we provide evidence that early alterations, from birth, in the central OT system lead to severe neurodevelopmental diseases such as feeding deficit in infancy and severe defects in social behavior in adulthood, as described in Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). Our review intends to propose a hypothesis about developmental dynamics of central OT pathways, which are essential for survival right after birth and for the acquisition of social skills later on. A better understanding of the embryonic and early postnatal maturation of the OT system may lead to better OT-based treatments in PWS or autism.
    Frontiers in Neuroanatomy 02/2015; 8. DOI:10.3389/fnana.2014.00164 · 4.18 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Recent research shows that the effects of oxytocin are more diverse that initially thought and that in some cases oxytocin can directly influence the response to drugs and alcohol. Large individual differences in basal oxytocin levels and reactivity of the oxytocin system exist. This paper will review the literature to explore how individual differences in the oxytocin system arise and examine the hypothesis that this may mediate some of the individual differences in susceptibility to addiction and relapse. Differences in the oxytocin system can be based on individual factors, e.g. genetic variation especially in the oxytocin receptor, age or gender, or be the result of early environmental influences such as social experiences, stress or trauma. The paper addresses the factors that cause individual differences in the oxytocin system and the environmental factors that have been identified to induce long-term changes in the developing oxytocin system during different life phases. Individual differences in the oxytocin system can influence effects of drugs and alcohol directly or indirectly. The oxytocin system has bidirectional interactions with the stress-axis, autonomic nervous system, neurotransmitter systems (e.g. dopamine, serotonin and GABA/glutamate) and the immune system. These systems are all important, even vital, in different phases of addiction. It is suggested that early life adversity can change the development of the oxytocin system and the way it modulates other systems. This in turn could minimise the negative feedback loops that would normally exist. Individuals may show only minor differences in behaviour and function unless subsequent stressors or drug use challenge the system. It is postulated that at that time individual differences in oxytocin levels, reactivity of the system or interactions with other systems can influence general resilience, drug effects and the susceptibility to develop problematic drug and alcohol use.
    Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 09/2013; 119. DOI:10.1016/j.pbb.2013.09.005 · 2.82 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Human studies demonstrate a four-fold increased possibility of smoking in the children of mothers who smoked during pregnancy. Nicotine is the active addictive component in tobacco-related products, crossing the placenta and contaminating the amniotic fluid. It is known that chemosensory experience in the womb can influence postnatal odor-guided preference behaviors for an exposure stimulus. By means of behavioral and neurophysiologic approaches, we examined whether fetal nicotine exposure, using mini-osmotic pumps, altered the response to nicotine odor in early postnatal (P17), adolescent (P35) and adult (P90) progeny. Compared with controls, fetal exposed rats displayed an altered innate response to nicotine odor that was evident at P17, declined in magnitude by P35 and was absent at P90 - these effects were specific to nicotine odor. The behavioral effect in P17 rats occurred in conjunction with a tuned olfactory mucosal response to nicotine odor along with an untoward consequence on the epithelial response to other stimuli - these P17 neural effects were absent in P35 and P90 animals. The absence of an altered neural effect at P35 suggests that central mechanisms, such as nicotine-induced modifications of the olfactory bulb, bring about the altered behavioral response to nicotine odor. Together, these findings provide insights into how fetal nicotine exposure influences the behavioral preference and responsiveness to the drug later in life. Moreover, they add to a growing literature demonstrating chemosensory mechanisms by which patterns of maternal drug use can be conveyed to offspring, thereby enhancing postnatal vulnerability for subsequent use and abuse.
    PLoS ONE 12/2013; 8(12):e84989. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0084989 · 3.53 Impact Factor


Available from