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Neurotoxicol Teratol. 1999 Sep-Oct;21(5):603-9.

Prenatal administration of nicotine results in dopaminergic alterations in the neocortex.

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Department of Neuropsychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Kagoshima University, Japan.


This study examined the effect of two high doses (3 or 6 mg/kg/day) of nicotine administrations via injections to pregnant rats on the dopaminergic, serotonergic, and noradrenergic systems in six brain regions in young adult male rats. The 3 mg/kg/day and 6 mg/kg/ day nicotine exposure resulted in significant decreases in dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) content in the neocortex and in both the neocortex and in the midbrain plus pons medulla, respectively, without any effects on the other brain regions such as the hypothalamus or striatum. No significant effects of prenatal nicotine were found on norepinephrine, serotonin, or 5-hydroxy-3-indolacetic acid levels. These data demonstrated that prenatal nicotine induced disturbances in the dopaminergic system in the young adult period. Furthermore, the region-specific reductions in the DOPAC content suggests that the exposure to a high dose of nicotine in utero might cause a predisposition to diseases related to a dopaminergic dysfunction in the frontal cortex.

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