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J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2003 Nov 14;66(21):2047-66.

Increased expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein in cerebellum and hippocampus: differential effects on neonatal brain regional acetylcholinesterase following maternal exposure to combined chlorpyrifos and nicotine.

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Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


Cigarette smoking and environmental exposure to chlorpyrifos during pregnancy could lead to developmental toxicity in the offspring. In the present study, pregnant female Sprague-Dawley rats (300-350 g) were treated daily with nicotine (1 mg/kg, sc) or chlorpyrifos (0.1 mg/kg, dermal) or a combination of nicotine and chlorpyrifos from gestational days (GD) 4-20. Control animals were treated with saline and ethanol. Male offspring from the mothers treated with nicotine alone gained significantly less weight on postnatal day (PND) 30 as compared to control. On PND 7, there was a significant increase in brain acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity in pups from nicotine- and chlorpyrifos-treated dams, whereas plasma butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) activity was significantly elevated in pups of mothers treated with either chlorpyrifos alone or pesticide combined with nicotine. On PND 30 there was a significant increase in AChE activity in brainstem and cerebellum in all treated male pups. In female pups on PND 30 there was a significant rise in AChE activity in brainstem of chlorpyrifos alone and in cerebellum of the combination nicotine and chlorpyrifos group. Histopathological evaluation demonstrated an increased neuronal cell death in the cerebellum granular cell layer of female offspring from nicotine or combined nicotine with chlorpyrifos group. A rise in glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) immunostaining was observed in the CA1 subfield of hippocampus and cerebellum on PND 30 in female and male offspring of mothers treated with either nicotine or nicotine in combination with chlorpyrifos, but to a lesser extent in males. Data suggest that maternal exposure to nicotine and chlorpyrifos, alone or in combination, produces differential alterations in brain regional AChE activity and expression of GFAP in cerebellum and hippocampus in offspring on PND 30.

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