Nicotine administration differentially affects gene expression in the maternal and fetal circadian clock.

TitleNicotine administration differentially affects gene expression in the maternal and fetal circadian clock.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1995
JournalBrain research. Developmental brain research
Date Published1995

Exposure to nicotine by active and passive cigarette smoke is a common public health problem. Recent studies have demonstrated that human fetuses are also exposed to significant levels of nicotine and that there is a five-fold increase in the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome among infants born to smoking mothers. We examined the effect of nicotine administration and expression of the immediate early gene c-fos in the maternal and fetal rat brain by in situ hybridization. Nicotine injection (1 mg/kg s.c.) on embryonic day 20 (E20) induced detectable c-fos mRNA in the maternal habenula and hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus whereas, in the fetal brain, c-fos was induced in both these structures and also in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Nicotine-induced c-fos expression in the fetal SCN was confirmed by Northern analysis and found to return to near basal levels by 3 h post-injection. These responses were blocked by pre-administration of mecamylamine, indicating that the effect of nicotine is mediated through the cholinergic system. Investigation of the development of this response revealed that nicotine failed to induce c-fos expression in the SCN on E16, caused minimal expression on E18, robust expression on E20 and postnatal day 0 (P0), and no expression on P2 or thereafter. These observations suggest that an alteration in the composition of the nicotinic receptors (nAChR), or the subsequent intracellular responses leading to c-fos expression, occurs in the SCN during the perinatal period. Induction of c-fos mRNA in the SCN by light has been associated with phase-shifts of the circadian system, however, the behavioral consequences of the transient sensitivity of the fetal and neonatal SCN to nicotine administration and the consequences for maternal-fetal entrainment remain to be directly determined.

Short TitleBrain Res Dev Brain Res
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