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Drug Alcohol Depend. 1996 Jun;41(2):119-26.

Perinatal exposure to methadone affects central cholinergic activity in the weanling rat.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond 23298-0613, USA.


Pregnant rats were implanted with osmotic minipumps containing either methadone hydrochloride (initial dose, 9 mg/kg/day) or sterile water. Their offspring were cross-fostered so that they were exposed to methadone prenatally and/or postnatally. Perinatal methadone exposure disrupted cholinergic activity on postnatal day 21 as measured by the turnover rate of acetylcholine (TRACh) in both female and male rats, although there were some sexually-dimorphic responses. The most profoundly affected brain region was the striatum, where prenatal exposure to methadone increased ACh turnover, whether or not the rats continued to be exposed to methadone postnatally. It appears unlikely that neonatal withdrawal contributes to brain regional changes in ACh turnover, as continued postnatal exposure to methadone did not prevent the prenatal methadone induced changes.

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