J.A. Cummings

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States

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Publications (5)18.94 Total impact

  • J.A. Cummings · L.G. Clemens · A.A. Nunez
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    ABSTRACT: Various compounds of anthropogenic origin represent environmental contaminants (EC) that penetrate the food chain and are frequently detected in human milk and maternal blood at the time of delivery. These ECs can affect the development of the fetus and can be transferred to the newborn during lactation. Many studies have used animal models to study the impact of ECs on the development of the nervous system and have reported effects of early exposure on neural and neuroendocrine systems and on behavior, when the exposed animals are tested as adults. Some of these effects persist across generations and may involve epigenetic mechanisms. The majority of these studies in developmental toxicology treat the pregnant or lactating animal with ECs in order to deliver the contaminants to the developing offspring. Almost universally, the mother is viewed as a passive conduit for the ECs, and maternal behavior is rarely assessed. Here we review the literature on the effects of ECs on maternal care and find mounting evidence that important components of the care given to the offspring are affected by maternal exposure to different ECs. Some of these changes in maternal behavior appear to be secondary to changes in the behavior and/or stimulus properties of the exposed offspring, but others are likely to be direct effects of the ECs on the maternal nervous and endocrine systems. Considering the extent to which the quality of maternal care affects the development of the offspring, it becomes imperative to determine the contributions that changes in maternal behavior make to the deficits traditionally ascribed solely to direct effects of ECs on the developing organism. Given the complexity and importance of mother-infant interactions, future research on developmental toxicology must consider the effects of ECs not only on the offspring, but also on the mother and on the interactions and social bond between mother and infant.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2010 · Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology
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    J. A. Cummings · L. G. Clemens · A. A. Nunez

    Full-text · Article · Mar 2009 · Physiology & Behavior
  • J.A. Cummings · L.G. Clemens · A.A. Nunez
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    ABSTRACT: In rats, exposure to the polychlorinated biphenyl congener 3, 4, 3', 4'-tetrachlorobiphenyl (PCB 77) affects the brain and behavior of the offspring as well as the maternal behavior of the dams. In the present study, a cross-fostering design was used to examine the effects of pre- and/or postnatal exposure to PCB 77 on sexual behavior and partner preference in female rats, and to determine the role of altered maternal behavior in the mediation of these effects. Pregnant rats were treated with oil or PCB dissolved in oil (2 mg/kg b.w.) on gestation days 6-18 and then given pups that had been exposed to either the oil vehicle or PCB during gestation. As adults, the female offspring were tested for partner preference (that is, whether they preferred to spend time with a sexually receptive female or a sexually active male) and sexual behavior. None of the treatments affected female sexual behavior. However, both double exposure and postnatal exposure diminished the animals' preference for a male over a female stimulus, but partner preference was not affected by prenatal exposure alone. There were no significant correlations between the changes in partner preferences due to PCB exposure and the amount of maternal grooming and licking received by the treated litters. Thus, female partner preference is affected by early PCB exposure, and the effects depend upon whether the exposure is in utero or via lactation and may be independent of any effects of the PCB on maternal care.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2008 · Physiology & Behavior
  • JA Cummings · AA Nunez · L G Clemens
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    ABSTRACT: Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are environmental contaminants known to cause multiple behavioral and developmental problems in humans and animals. In rats, gestational exposure to the PCB congener 3, 4, 3', 4'-tetrachlorobiphenyl (PCB 77) affects the brain and behavior of the offspring as well as the maternal behavior of the dams. Whether the behavior of dams is affected by direct effects of the contaminant or indirectly by actions of the PCB on the developing offspring is not known. We investigated this question using a cross-fostering paradigm in which pregnant rats were exposed to either oil vehicle or 2 mg/kg of PCB 77 on gestational days 6 through 18, and then raised pups that had been exposed to either oil or PCB 77 during gestation. Maternal behavior was observed on postnatal days 1, 2, 4 and 6. Some of the effects on maternal behavior, including an increase in the frequency of nursing bouts and in the amount of maternal autogrooming, can be ascribed to prenatal exposure of the litters to the PCB. Other behavioral effects, including an increase in time on the nest and in the amount of pup grooming as well as a reduction in high-crouch nursing, appear to be due to both direct effects of the PCB on the dams and effects mediated by changes in the offspring. Our results show that exposure to PCB 77 can have complex effects on the behavioral interactions between the dams and their litters with a potential impact on the development of the offspring.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2005 · Physiology & Behavior
  • S.L. Simmons · J.A. Cummings · L.G. Clemens · A.A. Nunez
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    ABSTRACT: Polychlorinated biphenyls are environmental contaminants known to affect neurobehavioral development in many laboratory studies using different animal models. Because of their bioaccumulation and long half-life they are a serious concern for our own species. The dioxin-like PCB congener 3,4,3',4'-tetrachlorobiphenyl (PCB 77) has estrogenic and anti-estrogenic properties, and has been shown to affect brain chemistry and behavior of developing rats when administered during gestation. Since many developmental outcomes in mammals depend upon the type of maternal care provided by the dams, we investigated the effects of two doses of PCB 77 (2 and 4 mg/kg administered during gestational days 6-18) on the maternal behavior of the treated dams. Both doses of PCB 77 reduced the amount of nursing time in which the dams displayed the high-crouch posture over postnatal days 1-6. In addition, the high dose increased the amount of maternal licking and grooming of the litters and the amount of time the dams spent on the nest. The high dose also increased pup mortality, and both doses reduced the weight gain of the litters during the first 6 days of life. These results document effects of PCB 77 on maternal behavior and serve to raise questions about the importance of maternal contributions to the developmental effects of this and similar contaminants.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2005 · Physiology & Behavior

Publication Stats

73 Citations
18.94 Total Impact Points


  • 2009-2010
    • University of Michigan
      • Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute
      Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
  • 2005-2008
    • Michigan State University
      • Graduate School
      Ист-Лансинг, Michigan, United States