Gestational exposure to nicotine and/or benzo[a]pyrene causes long-lasting neurobehavioral consequences
Hawkey, A.; Junaid, S.; Yao, L.; Spiera, Z.; White, H.; Cauley, M.; Levin, E.D.
Birth Defects Research 111(17): 1248-1258
Tobacco smoke is a complex mixture that includes thousands of compounds. Previously, we have found that gestational exposure to the complex mixture of tobacco smoke extract caused long-term neurobehavioral impairments. In this study, we examined the interaction of two of the most biologically active, nicotine and benzo[a]pyrene (BaP). Developmental effects were determined in Sprague-Dawley rats prenatally exposed to low doses of BaP and nicotine (0.03 mg/kg/day of BaP and 2 mg/kg/day of nicotine) via maternal osmotic minipumps throughout gestation. Behavioral function was assessed in the offspring via a battery of tests through adolescence into adulthood. There were sex-selective effects in four of the behavioral tests. In the elevated plus maze, there was a significant interaction of BaP and sex, where BaP-treated males showed a trend for increased activity. In the novelty suppressed feeding test, there were significant sex selective effects in males such that the normal sex difference in the behavior in this test was eliminated. Male offspring with prenatal exposure to either nicotine or BaP showed significant reductions in fear response. In the Figure-8 locomotor activity test, BAP-exposed male offspring were significantly hyperactive. This also eliminated the sex difference typically seen in this test. This effect persisted into adulthood. In the attention task, males exposed to nicotine during gestation showed a significant percent hit impairment. BaP reversed this effect. No significant effects were seen with percent correct rejection. These data show that both nicotine and BaP cause persisting sex-selective behavioral effects that persist into adulthood.