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Dev Neurobiol. 2016 Oct;76(10):1125-37. doi: 10.1002/dneu.22379. Epub 2016 Feb 8.

Developmental nicotine exposure disrupts dendritic arborization patterns of hypoglossal motoneurons in the neonatal rat.

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Department of Physiology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
Department of Neuroscience, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Physiological Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.


Maternal smoking or use of other products containing nicotine during pregnancy can have significant adverse consequences for respiratory function in neonates. We have shown, in previous studies, that developmental nicotine exposure (DNE) in a model system compromises the normal function of respiratory circuits within the brainstem. The effects of DNE include alterations in the excitability and synaptic interactions of the hypoglossal motoneurons, which innervate muscles of the tongue. This study was undertaken to test the hypothesis that these functional consequences of DNE are accompanied by changes in the dendritic morphology of hypoglossal motoneurons. Hypoglossal motoneurons in brain stem slices were filled with neurobiotin during whole-cell patch clamp recordings and subjected to histological processing to reveal dendrites. Morphometric analysis, including the Sholl method, revealed significant effects of DNE on dendritic branching patterns. In particular, whereas within the first five postnatal days there was significant growth of the higher-order dendritic branches of motoneurons from control animals, the growth was compromised in motoneurons from neonates that were subjected to DNE.


dendrite; gestational; motor neuron; nicotine; tobacco

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