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: 2.76). 07/2009; 31(5):291-302. DOI: 10.1016/
Source: PubMed


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.

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    • "Within a weight-matched triad of dams the animals were then randomly assigned to the NIC (nicotine treated), VC (vehicle control) or NP (no surgery control) maternal treatment groups. In this latter regard, VC animals are the historical control of choice for any potential effect of “surgery” in studies using mini-osmotic pumps (e.g., 45-47). In the present study, we also included a non-surgical control in order to directly examine whether and to what degree the procedure of pump implantation, itself, had an effect on our dependent variables of interest. "
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    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 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "For example, increased OT levels (both central and peripheral) and increased OTR binding, mRNA and density has been associated with the up-regulation of the OT system that occurs during gestation, parturition and lactation [30], [91]–[94]. It is plausible that upregulation of OTR mRNA is at least partly responsible for the behavioral findings in this study given the association between increased OTR mRNA and reduced anxiety [95], and increased OT levels and OTR binding and reduced alcohol consumption [96], [97]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies have suggested that administration of oxytocin (OT) can have modulatory effects on social and anxiety-like behavior in mammals that may endure beyond the time of acute OT administration. The current study examined whether repeated administration of OT to male Wistar rats (n = 48) during a key developmental epoch (early adolescence) altered their physiology and behavior in later-life. Group housed rats were given intraperitoneal injections of either 1 mg/kg OT or vehicle during early adolescence (post natal-days [PND] 33-42). OT treatment caused a transient inhibition of body weight gain that recovered quickly after the cessation of treatment. At PND 50, the rats pre-treated with OT displayed less anxiety-like behavior on the emergence test, while at PND 55 they showed greater levels of social interaction. A subgroup of OT pre-treated rats examined at PND 63 showed a strong trend towards increased plasma OT levels, and also displayed significantly increased OT receptor mRNA in the hypothalamus. Rats pre-treated with OT and their controls showed similar induction of beer intake in daily 70 min test sessions (PND 63 onwards) in which the alcohol concentration of beer was gradually increased across days from 0.44% to 4.44%. However, when given ad libitum access to beer in their home cages from PND 72 onwards (early adulthood), consumption of beer but not water was significantly less in the OT pre-treated rats. A "booster" shot of OT (1 mg/kg) given after 25 days of ad libitum access to beer had a strong acute inhibitory effect on beer intake without affecting water intake. Overall these results suggest that exogenous OT administered during adolescence can have subtle yet enduring effects on anxiety, sociability and the motivation to consume alcohol. Such effects may reflect the inherent neuroplasticity of brain OT systems and a feed-forward effect whereby exogenous OT upregulates endogenous OT systems.
    PLoS ONE 11/2011; 6(11):e27237. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0027237 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It is well established that the continued intake of drugs of abuse is reinforcing-that is repeated consumption increases preference. This has been shown in some studies to extend to other drugs of abuse; use of one increases preference for another. In particular, the present review deals with the interaction of nicotine and alcohol as it has been shown that smoking is a risk factor for alcoholism and alcohol use is a risk factor to become a smoker. The review discusses changes in the brain caused by chronic nicotine and chronic alcohol intake to approach the possible mechanisms by which one drug increases the preference for another. Chronic nicotine administration was shown to affect nicotine receptors in the brain, affecting not only receptor levels and distribution, but also receptor subunit composition, thus affecting affinity to nicotine. Other receptor systems are also affected among others catecholamine, glutamate, GABA levels and opiate and cannabinoid receptors. In addition to receptor systems and transmitters, there are endocrine, metabolic and neuropeptide changes as well induced by nicotine. Similarly chronic alcohol intake results in changes in the brain, in multiple receptors, transmitters and peptides as discussed in this overview and also illustrated in the tables. The changes are sex and age-dependent-some changes in males are different from those in females and in general adolescents are more sensitive to drug effects than adults. Although nicotine and alcohol interact-not all the changes induced by the combined intake of both are additive-some are opposing. These opposing effects include those on locomotion, acetylcholine metabolism, nicotine binding, opiate peptides, glutamate transporters and endocannabinoid content among others. The two compounds lower the negative withdrawal symptoms of each other which may contribute to the increase in preference, but the mechanism by which preference increases-most likely consists of multiple components that are not clear at the present time. As the details of induced changes of nicotine and alcohol differ, it is likely that the mechanisms of increasing nicotine preference may not be identical to that of increasing alcohol preference. Stimulation of preference of yet other drugs may again be different -representing one aspect of drug specificity of reward mechanisms.
    Neurochemical Research 05/2010; 35(8):1248-58. DOI:10.1007/s11064-010-0181-8 · 2.59 Impact Factor
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