Theodore A Slotkin

Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, United States

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Publications (558)1954.13 Total impact

  • Theodore A Slotkin · Samantha Skavicus · Frederic J Seidler
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    ABSTRACT: We examined whether nicotine or dexamethasone, common prenatal drug exposures, sensitize the developing brain to chlorpyrifos. We gave nicotine to pregnant rats throughout gestation at a dose (3mg/kg/day) producing plasma levels typical of smokers; offspring were then given chlorpyrifos on postnatal days 1-4, at a dose (1mg/kg) that produces minimally-detectable inhibition of brain cholinesterase activity. In a parallel study, we administered dexamethasone to pregnant rats on gestational days 17-19 at a standard therapeutic dose (0.2mg/kg) used in the management of preterm labor, followed by postnatal chlorpyrifos. We evaluated cerebellar noradrenergic projections, a known target for each agent, and contrasted the effects with those in the cerebral cortex. Either drug augmented the effect of chlorpyrifos, evidenced by deficits in cerebellar β-adrenergic receptors; the receptor effects were not due to increased systemic toxicity or cholinesterase inhibition, nor to altered chlorpyrifos pharmacokinetics. Further, the deficits were not secondary adaptations to presynaptic hyperinnervation/hyperactivity, as there were significant deficits in presynaptic norepinephrine levels that would serve to augment the functional consequence of receptor deficits. The pretreatments also altered development of cerebrocortical noradrenergic circuits, but with a different overall pattern, reflecting the dissimilar developmental stages of the regions at the time of exposure. However, in each case the net effects represented a change in the developmental trajectory of noradrenergic circuits, rather than simply a continuation of an initial injury. Our results point to the ability of prenatal drug exposure to create a subpopulation with heightened vulnerability to environmental neurotoxicants.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Toxicology
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    ABSTRACT: Tobacco smoke contains thousands of compounds in addition to nicotine, a known neuroteratogen. We evaluated the developmental neurotoxicity of tobacco smoke extract (TSE) administered to pregnant rats starting preconception and continued through the second postnatal week. We simulated nicotine concentrations encountered with second-hand smoke, an order of magnitude below those seen in active smokers, and compared TSE to an equivalent dose of nicotine alone, and to a ten-fold higher nicotine dose. We conducted longitudinal evaluations in multiple brain regions, starting in adolescence (postnatal day 30) and continued to full adulthood (day 150). TSE exposure impaired presynaptic cholinergic activity, exacerbated by a decrement in nicotinic cholinergic receptor concentrations. Although both nicotine doses also produced presynaptic cholinergic deficits, these were partially compensated by hyperinnervation and receptor upregulation, effects that were absent with TSE. TSE also produced deficits in 5HT receptors in females that were not seen with nicotine. Regression analysis showed a profound sex difference in the degree to which nicotine could account for overall TSE effects: whereas the two nicotine doses accounted for 36-46% of TSE effects in males, it accounted for only 7-13% in females. Our results show that the adverse effects of TSE on neurodevelopment exceed those that can be attributed to just the nicotine present in the mixture, and further, that the sensitivity extends down to levels commensurate with second-hand smoke exposure. Since nicotine itself evoked deficits at low exposures, "harm reduction" nicotine products do not eliminate the potential for neurodevelopmental damage. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Toxicology. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · Toxicological Sciences
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    ABSTRACT: Tobacco smoke exposure is associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. We used neuronotypic PC12 cells to evaluate the mechanisms by which tobacco smoke extract (TSE) affects neurodifferentiation. In undifferentiated cells, TSE impaired DNA synthesis and cell numbers to a much greater extent than nicotine alone; TSE also impaired cell viability to a small extent. In differentiating cells, TSE enhanced cell growth at the expense of cell numbers and promoted emergence of the dopaminergic phenotype. Nicotinic receptor blockade with mecamylamine was ineffective in preventing the adverse effects of TSE and actually enhanced the effect of TSE on the dopamine phenotype. A mixture of antioxidants (Vitamin C, Vitamin E, N-acetyl-L-cysteine) provided partial protection against cell loss but also promoted loss of the cholinergic phenotype in response to TSE. Notably, the antioxidants themselves altered neurodifferentiation, reducing cell numbers and promoting the cholinergic phenotype at the expense of the dopaminergic phenotype, an effect that was most prominent for N-acetyl-L-cysteine. Treatment with methyl donors (Vitamin B12, folic acid, choline) had no protectant effect and actually enhanced the cell loss evoked by TSE; they did have a minor, synergistic interaction with antioxidants protecting against TSE effects on growth. Thus, components of tobacco smoke perturb neurodifferentiation through mechanisms that cannot be attributed to the individual effects of nicotine, oxidative stress or interference with one-carbon metabolism. Consequently, attempted amelioration strategies may be partially effective at best, or, as seen here, can actually aggravate injury interfering with normal developmental signals and/or by sensitizing cells to TSE effects on neurodifferentiation. ANOVAanalysis of variance; ChATcholine acetyltransferase; MDAmalondialdehyde; NACN-acetyl-L-cysteine; THtyrosine hydroxylase; TSEtobacco smoke extract. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Toxicology
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    ABSTRACT: Nicotine and chlorpyrifos are developmental neurotoxicants that target serotonin systems. We examined whether prenatal nicotine exposure alters the subsequent response to chlorpyrifos given postnatally. Pregnant rats received nicotine throughout gestation at 3mg/kg/day, a regimen designed to achieve plasma levels seen in smokers; chlorpyrifos was given to pups on postnatal days (PN) 1-4 at 1mg/kg, just above the detection threshold for brain cholinesterase inhibition. We assessed long-term effects from adolescence (PN30) through full adulthood (PN150), measuring the expression of serotonin receptors and serotonin turnover (index of presynaptic impulse activity) in cerebrocortical brain regions encompassing the projections that are known targets for nicotine and chlorpyrifos. Nicotine or chlorpyrifos individually increased the expression of serotonin receptors, with greater effects on males than on females and with distinct temporal and regional patterns indicative of adaptive synaptic changes rather than simply an extension of initial injury. This interpretation was confirmed by our finding an increase in serotonin turnover, connoting presynaptic serotonergic hyperactivity. Animals receiving the combined treatment showed a reduction in these adaptive effects on receptor binding and turnover relative to the individual agents, or even an effect in the opposite direction; further, normal sex differences in serotonin receptor concentrations were dissipated or reversed, an effect that was confirmed by behavioral evaluations in the Novel Objection Recognition Test. In addition to the known liabilities associated with maternal smoking during pregnancy, our results point to additional costs in the form of heightened vulnerability to neurotoxic chemicals encountered later in life. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Brain Research Bulletin
  • Theodore A Slotkin · Frederic J Seidler
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    ABSTRACT: This study examines whether prenatal nicotine exposure sensitizes the developing brain to subsequent developmental neurotoxicity evoked by chlorpyrifos, a commonly-used insecticide. We gave nicotine to pregnant rats throughout gestation at a dose (3mg/kg/day) producing plasma levels typical of smokers; offspring were then given chlorpyrifos on postnatal days 1-4, at a dose (1mg/kg) that produces minimally-detectable inhibition of brain cholinesterase activity. We evaluated indices for acetylcholine (ACh) synaptic function throughout adolescence, young adulthood and later adulthood, in brain regions possessing the majority of ACh projections and cell bodies; we measured nicotinic ACh receptor binding, hemicholinium-3 binding to the presynaptic choline transporter and choline acetyltransferase activity, all known targets for the adverse developmental effects of nicotine and chlorpyrifos given individually. By itself nicotine elicited overall upregulation of the ACh markers, albeit with selective differences by sex, region and age. Likewise, chlorpyrifos alone had highly sex-selective effects. Importantly, all the effects showed temporal progression between adolescence and adulthood, pointing to ongoing synaptic changes rather than just persistence after an initial injury. Prenatal nicotine administration altered the responses to chlorpyrifos in a consistent pattern for all three markers, lowering values relative to those of the individual treatments or to those expected from simple additive effects of nicotine and chlorpyrifos. The combination produced global interference with emergence of the ACh phenotype, an effect not seen with nicotine or chlorpyrifos alone. Given that human exposures to nicotine and chlorpyrifos are widespread, our results point to the creation of a subpopulation with heightened vulnerability. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2014 · Brain Research Bulletin
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    ABSTRACT: Although nicotine accounts for a great deal of the neurodevelopmental damage associated with maternal smoking or second-hand exposure, tobacco smoke contains thousands of potentially neurotoxic compounds. We used PC12 cells, a standard in vitro model of neurodifferentiation, to compare tobacco smoke extract (TSE) to nicotine, matching TSE exposure (with its inherent nicotine content) to parallel concentrations of nicotine, or to benzo[a]pyrene, a tobacco combustion product. TSE promoted the transition from cell replication to differentiation, resulting in fewer, but larger cells with greater neurite extension. TSE also biased differentiation into the dopaminergic versus the cholinergic phenotype, evidenced by an increase in tyrosine hydroxylase activity but not choline acetyltransferase. Nicotine likewise promoted differentiation at the expense of cell numbers, but its effect on growth and neurite extension was smaller than that of TSE; furthermore, nicotine did not promote the dopaminergic phenotype. Benzo[a]pyrene had effects opposite to those of TSE, retarding neurodifferentiation, which resulted in higher cell numbers, smaller cells, reduced neurite information, and impaired emergence of both dopaminergic and cholinergic phenotypes. Our studies show that the complex mixture of compounds in tobacco smoke exerts direct effects on neural cell replication and differentiation that resemble those of nicotine in some ways but not others, and most importantly, that are greater in magnitude than can be accounted for from just the nicotine content of TSE. Thus, fetal tobacco smoke exposure, including lower levels associated with second-hand smoke, could be more injurious than would be anticipated from measured levels of nicotine or its metabolites.
    No preview · Article · May 2014 · Neurotoxicology and Teratology
  • M. Cauley · D. Burke · B. J. Hall · F. J. Seidler · T.A. Slotkin · E. D. Levin

    No preview · Article · May 2014 · Neurotoxicology and Teratology
  • Theodore A Slotkin · Jennifer Card · Frederic J Seidler
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    ABSTRACT: Nicotine exposure in adolescence produces lasting changes in subsequent behavioral responses to addictive agents. We gave nicotine to adolescent rats (postnatal days PN30-47), simulating plasma levels in smokers, and then examined the subsequent effects of nicotine given again in adulthood (PN90-107), focusing on cerebrocortical serotonin levels and utilization (turnover) as an index of presynaptic activity of circuits involved in emotional state. Our evaluations encompassed responses during the period of adult nicotine treatment (PN105) and withdrawal (PN110, PN120, PN130), as well as long-term changes (PN180). In males, prior exposure to nicotine in adolescence greatly augmented the increase in serotonin turnover evoked by nicotine given in adulthood, an interaction that was further exacerbated during withdrawal. The effect was sufficiently large that it led to significant depletion of serotonin stores, an effect that was not seen with nicotine given alone in either adolescence or adulthood. In females, adolescent nicotine exposure blunted or delayed the spike in serotonin turnover evoked by withdrawal from adult nicotine treatment, a totally different effect from the interaction seen in males. Combined with earlier work showing persistent dysregulation of serotonin receptor expression and receptor coupling, the present results indicate that adolescent nicotine exposure reprograms future responses of 5HT systems to nicotine, changes that may contribute to life-long vulnerability to relapse and re-addiction.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2014 · Brain research bulletin
  • Theodore A Slotkin · Jennifer Card · Frederic J Seidler
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    ABSTRACT: This study explores how glucocorticoids sensitize the developing brain to the organophosphate pesticide, chlorpyrifos. Pregnant rats received a standard therapeutic dose (0.2mg/kg) of dexamethasone on gestational days 17-19; pups were given subtoxic doses of chlorpyrifos on postnatal days 1-4, (1mg/kg, <10% cholinesterase inhibition). We evaluated serotonin (5HT) synaptic function from postnatal day 30 to day 150, assessing the expression of 5HT receptors and the 5HT transporter, along with 5HT turnover (index of presynaptic impulse activity) in brain regions encompassing all the 5HT projections and cell bodies. These parameters are known targets for neurodevelopmental effects of dexamethasone and chlorpyrifos individually. In males, chlorpyrifos evoked overall elevations in the expression of 5HT synaptic proteins, with a progressive increase from adolescence to adulthood; this effect was attenuated by prenatal dexamethasone treatment. The chlorpyrifos-induced upregulation was preceded by deficits in 5HT turnover, indicating that the receptor upregulation was an adaptive response to deficient presynaptic activity. Turnover deficiencies were magnified by dexamethasone pretreatment, worsening the functional impairment caused by chlorpyrifos. In females, chlorpyrifos-induced receptor changes reflected relative sparing of adverse effects compared to males. Nevertheless, prenatal dexamethasone still worsened the 5HT turnover deficits and reduced 5HT receptor expression in females, demonstrating the same adverse interaction. Glucocorticoids are used in 10% of U.S. pregnancies, and are also elevated in maternal stress; accordingly, our results indicate that this group represents a large subpopulation that may have heightened vulnerability to developmental neurotoxicants such as the organophosphates.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2013 · Brain research bulletin
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    ABSTRACT: Glucocorticoids are the consensus treatment given in preterm labor and are also elevated by maternal stress; organophosphate exposures are virtually ubiquitous, so human developmental coexposures to these two agents are common. This study explores how prenatal dexamethasone exposure modifies the neurobehavioral teratology of chlorpyrifos, one of the most widely used organophosphates. We administered dexamethasone to pregnant rats on gestational days 17-19 at a standard therapeutic dose (0.2mg/kg); offspring were then given chlorpyrifos on postnatal days 1-4, at a dose (1mg/kg) that produces barely-detectable (<10%) inhibition of brain cholinesterase activity. Dexamethasone did not alter brain chlorpyrifos concentrations, nor did either agent alone or in combination affect brain thyroxine levels. Assessments were carried out from adolescence through adulthood encompassing T-maze alternation, Figure 8 maze (locomotor activity, habituation), novelty-suppressed feeding and novel object recognition tests. For behaviors where chlorpyrifos or dexamethasone individually had small effects, the dual exposure produced larger, significant effects that reflected additivity (locomotor activity, novelty-suppressed feeding, novel object recognition). Where the individual effects were in opposite directions or were restricted to only one agent, we found enhancement of chlorpyrifos' effects by prenatal dexamethasone (habituation). Finally, for behaviors where controls displayed a normal sex difference in performance, the combined treatment either eliminated or reversed the difference (locomotor activity, novel object recognition). Combined exposure to dexamethasone and chlorpyrifos results in a worsened neurobehavioral outcome, providing a proof-of-principle that prenatal glucocorticoids can create a subpopulation with enhanced vulnerability to environmental toxicants.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2013 · Neurotoxicology and Teratology
  • Theodore A Slotkin

    No preview · Article · Jul 2013 · JAMA Psychiatry
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    ABSTRACT: Although organophosphate pesticides are not usually characterized as "endocrine disruptors," recent work points to potential, long-term reductions of circulating thyroid hormones after developmental exposures to chlorpyrifos that are devoid of observable toxicity. We administered chlorpyrifos to developing rats on gestational days 17-20 or postnatal days 1-4, regimens that produce distinctly different, sex-selective effects on neurobehavioral performance. The prenatal regimen produced a small, but statistically significant reduction in brain thyroxine levels from juvenile stages through adulthood; in contrast, postnatal exposure produced a transient elevation in young adulthood. However, in neither case did we observe the sex-selectivity noted earlier for neurobehavioral outcomes of these specific treatment regimens, or as reported earlier for effects on serum T4 in developing mice. Thus, although chlorpyrifos has the potential to disrupt thyroid status sufficiently to alter brain thyroid hormone levels, the effect is small, and any potential contribution to neurobehavioral abnormalities remains to be proven.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2013
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    Theodore A Slotkin · Jennifer Card · Frederic J Seidler
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are suspected developmental neurotoxicants, but human exposures typically occur in combination with other neurotoxic contaminants. Objective and Methods: We explored the effects of benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) on neurodifferentiation in PC12 cells, in combination with a glucocorticoid (dexamethasone, used in preterm labor), an organophosphate pesticide (chlorpyrifos), or nicotine. Results: In cells treated with BaP alone, the transition from cell division to neurodifferentiation was suppressed, resulting in increased cell numbers at the expense of cell growth, neurite formation, and development of dopaminergic and cholinergic phenotypes. Dexamethasone enhanced the effect of BaP on cell numbers and altered the impact on neurotransmitter phenotypes. Whereas BaP alone shifted differentiation away from the cholinergic phenotype and toward the dopaminergic phenotype, the addition of dexamethasone along with BaP did the opposite. Chlorpyrifos coexposure augmented BaP inhibition of cell growth and enhanced the BaP-induced shift in phenotype toward a higher proportion of dopaminergic cells. Nicotine had no effect on BaP-induced changes in cell number or growth, but it synergistically enhanced the BaP suppression of differentiation into both dopaminergic and cholinergic phenotypes equally. Conclusion: Our results indicate that, although BaP can act directly as a developmental neurotoxicant, its impact is greatly modified by coexposure to other commonly encountered neurotoxicants from prenatal drug therapy, pesticides, or tobacco. Accordingly, neurodevelopmental effects attributable to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons may be quite different depending on which other agents are present and on their concentrations relative to each other.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2013 · Environmental Health Perspectives
  • Theodore A Slotkin · Jennifer Card · Alice Infante · Frederic J Seidler
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    ABSTRACT: Early-life exposures to brominated diphenyl ethers (BDEs) lead to neurobehavioral abnormalities later in life. Although these agents are thyroid disruptors, it is not clear whether this mechanism alone accounts for the adverse effects. We evaluated the impact of 2,2',4,4',5-pentabromodiphenyl ether (BDE99) on PC12 cells undergoing neurodifferentiation, contrasting the effects with chlorpyrifos, a known developmental neurotoxicant. BDE99 elicited decrements in the number of cells, evidenced by a reduction in DNA levels, to a lesser extent than did chlorpyrifos. This did not reflect cytotoxicity from oxidative stress, since cell enlargement, monitored by the total protein/DNA ratio, was not only unimpaired by BDE99, but was actually enhanced. Importantly, BDE99 impaired neurodifferentiation into both the dopamine and acetylcholine neurotransmitter phenotypes. The cholinergic phenotype was affected to a greater extent, so that neurotransmitter fate was diverted away from acetylcholine and toward dopamine. Chlorpyrifos produced the same imbalance, but through a different underlying mechanism, promoting dopaminergic development at the expense of cholinergic development. In our earlier work, we did not find these effects with BDE47, a BDE that has greater endocrine disrupting and cytotoxic effects than BDE99. Thus, our results point to interference with neurodifferentiation by specific BDE congeners, distinct from cytotoxic or endocrine mechanisms.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2013 · Neurotoxicology and Teratology
  • Theodore A Slotkin · Jennifer Card · Alice Infante · Frederic J Seidler
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    ABSTRACT: Glucocorticoids are routinely given in preterm labor and are also elevated by maternal stress; organophosphate exposures are virtually ubiquitous, so coexposures to these two agents are pervasive. We administered dexamethasone to pregnant rats on gestational days 17-19 at a standard therapeutic dose (0.2mg/kg); offspring were then given chlorpyrifos on postnatal days 1-4, at a dose (1mg/kg) that produces barely-detectable (<10%) inhibition of brain cholinesterase activity. We evaluated indices for acetylcholine (ACh) synaptic function throughout adolescence, young adulthood and later adulthood, in brain regions possessing the majority of ACh projections and cell bodies; we measured nicotinic ACh receptor binding, hemicholinium-3 binding to the presynaptic choline transporter and choline acetyltransferase activity, all known targets for the adverse developmental effects of dexamethasone and chlorpyrifos given individually. Dexamethasone did not enhance the systemic toxicity of chlorpyrifos, as evidenced by weight gain and measurements of cholinesterase inhibition during chlorpyrifos treatment. Nevertheless, it enhanced the loss of presynaptic ACh function selectively in females, who ordinarily show sparing of organophosphate developmental neurotoxicity relative to males. Females receiving the combined treatment showed decrements in choline transporter binding and choline acetyltransferase activity that were unique (not found with either treatment alone), as well as additive decrements in nicotinic receptor binding. On the other hand, males given dexamethasone showed no augmentation of the effects of chlorpyrifos. Our findings indicate that prior dexamethasone exposure could create a subpopulation that is especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of organophosphates or other developmental neurotoxicants.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2013 · Neurotoxicology and Teratology
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    ABSTRACT: Obesity is associated with mood disorders, but underlying mechanisms are not well understood. We have recently described a strong association of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) and aromatic amino acids (AAA) with obesity and insulin resistance. In the current study, we have investigated the potential impact of BCAA on behavioral functions. We demonstrate that supplementation of either a high sucrose or a high fat diet with BCAA induces anxiety-like behavior in rats compared to control groups fed on unsupplemented diets. These behavioral changes are associated with a significant decrease in the concentration of tryptophan (Trp) in brain tissues and a consequent decrease in serotonin, but no difference in indices of serotonin synaptic function. The anxiety-like behaviors and decreased levels of Trp in the brain of BCAA-fed rats were reversed by supplementation of Trp in the drinking water, but not by administration of fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, suggesting that the behavioral changes are independent of the serotonergic pathway of Trp metabolism. Instead, BCAA supplementation lowers the brain levels of another Trp-derived metabolite, kynurenic acid, and these levels are normalized by Trp supplementation. We conclude that supplementation of high energy diets with BCAA causes neurobehavioral impairment. Since BCAA are spontaneously elevated in human obesity, our studies suggest a potential mechanism for explaining the strong association of obesity and mood disorders.
    Preview · Article · Dec 2012 · AJP Endocrinology and Metabolism
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    ABSTRACT: Background: An emerging literature suggests that environmental chemicals may play a role in the development of childhood obesity and metabolic disorders, especially when exposure occurs early in life. Objective: Here we assess the association between these health outcomes and exposure to maternal smoking during pregnancy as part of a broader effort to develop a research agenda to better understand the role of environmental chemicals as potential risk factors for obesity and metabolic disorders. Methods: PubMed was searched up to 8 March 2012 for epidemiological and experimental animal studies related to maternal smoking or nicotine exposure during pregnancy and childhood obesity or metabolic disorders at any age. A total of 101 studies—83 in humans and 18 in animals—were identified as the primary literature. Discussion: Current epidemiological data support a positive association between maternal smoking and increased risk of obesity or overweight in offspring. The data strongly suggest a causal relation, although the possibility that the association is attributable to unmeasured residual confounding cannot be completely ruled out. This conclusion is supported by findings from laboratory animals exposed to nicotine during development. The existing literature on human exposures does not support an association between maternal smoking during pregnancy and type 1 diabetes in offspring. Too few human studies have assessed outcomes related to type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome to reach conclusions based on patterns of findings. There may be a number of mechanistic pathways important for the development of aberrant metabolic outcomes following perinatal exposure to cigarette smoke, which remain largely unexplored. Conclusions: From a toxicological perspective, the linkages between maternal smoking during pregnancy and childhood overweight/obesity provide proof-of-concept of how early-life exposure to an environmental toxicant can be a risk factor for childhood obesity.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · Environmental Health Perspectives

Publication Stats

20k Citations
1,954.13 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1975-2015
    • Duke University
      Durham, North Carolina, United States
  • 1973-2015
    • Duke University Medical Center
      • • Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology
      • • Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science
      • • Department of Biochemistry
      Durham, North Carolina, United States
  • 2005
    • U.S. Food and Drug Administration
      • Division of Neurotoxicology
      Washington, D. C., DC, United States
  • 2004
    • University of Arkansas at Little Rock
      Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
  • 1978
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      North Carolina, United States