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Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2006 Aug-Sep;84(8-9):953-7.

The effect of nicotine on in vitro placental perfusion pressure.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6, Canada.


Cigarette smoking throughout pregnancy is associated with several negative outcomes, of which an increased incidence of intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR) is most pronounced. Gestationally age-matched infants born to smoking mothers are, on average, 200 g lighter at birth, per pack smoked per day. The mechanisms and specific tobacco compounds responsible for the increased risk of IUGR among smokers have yet to be identified; however, it is widely accepted that smoking women have compromised placental perfusion throughout gestation due to the vasoconstricting effect of nicotine on uterine and placental blood vessels. Despite the universal acceptance of this theory, very little work has been completed to date examining the vasoactive properties of nicotine within the human placenta. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of nicotine on placental vascular function. Normal-term human placentae were obtained after elective cesarean sections. An in vitro placental perfusion system was used; increasing doses of nicotine (20-240 ng/mL) were added to either the maternal (n = 5) or fetal (n = 3) circulation. The basal feto-placental perfusion pressure was 39.87 +/- 4.3 mmHg and was not affected by nicotine. This finding supports the hypotheses that nicotine does not directly affect placental microvascular function and that any contribution to fetal growth restriction is likely at the level of placental function (i.e., amino acid transport) and (or) uterine vascular function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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