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Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2000 Jul-Aug;22(4):541-5.

Retinoic acid exposure on gestational days 11 to 13 impairs swallowing in rat offspring.

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Department of Psychology, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM 87801, USA.


We have previously reported that exposure to 10 mg/kg of all-trans-retinoic acid (RA) daily on the 11th, 12th, and 13th days of rat gestation is lethal to all fetuses so exposed, due to an inability to suckle [R.R. Holson et al., Neurotoxicol Teratol 19 (1997) 347-353]. Because this lethal RA effect could be due to any of a variety of causes, from olfactory problems in locating the nipple to a motor problem in sucking or swallowing, we performed the following experiment. Albino dams were exposed to 10-mg/kg RA or vehicle daily over gestational days (GDs) 11 to 13. On the afternoon of GD 21 all pups were delivered by c-section. Tongue cannulae were inserted into the oral cavity of these offspring, and used to infuse a solution of condensed milk directly into the mouth. During and after each of four infusions, the behavioral response to the infusion (typically rolling and curling) was recorded. Controls responded well to this procedure, typically swallowing all milk so infused. In contrast, almost no RA-exposed neonates were able to swallow milk infused into the oral cavity. In such cases the milk simply dribbled out of the mouth, while the stomach was found to be empty at autopsy. However, the RA-treated animals did seem aware that milk was entering their mouths, because they showed a normal behavioral response to milk infusion. We conclude that GD 11-13 retinoid lethality is due to motor not sensory problems in the control of swallowing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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