Effects of prenatal nicotine exposure on rat striatal dopaminergic and nicotinic systems

Yiu K. Fung, Yuen Sum Lau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Previously we observed that chronic nicotine-treated adult rats developed locomotor hyperactivity which was mediated by changes in nicotine and dopaminergic receptors in the striatum. In this study, we further examined if such changes would also occur in pups that were prenatally exposed to nicotine. Fourteen-day-old offspring from dams which were implanted with osmotic minipumps containing nicotine (1.5 mg/kg/day) throughout the entire gestational period were employed in this investigation. Prenatal nicotine treatment lowered the number of male pups born and reduced the postnatal gain in body weight and length of both male and female offsprings. Prenatal exposure to nicotine did not alter the motor coordination of the pups. A decrease in the number of striatal dopaminergic receptor binding sites (Bmax) was detected in the male pups, however an increase in the ligand affinity to the receptors (1/KD) had been simultaneously detected. No change in the characteristics of nicotinic receptor binding sites and the levels of dopamine and its metabolite, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid was found in the striatal region. The present study indicates that prenatal exposure to nicotine had cause changes in growth and development of the animals. However, in comparison to chronic nicotine-treated adult rats, prenatal exposure to nicotine had only modified the dopaminergic receptor system in the striatal region of male offspring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalPharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1989


  • Dopamine
  • Nicotine
  • Receptor
  • Striatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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