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Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2019 Jul - Aug;74:106808. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2019 May 16.

Paternal nicotine exposure in rats produces long-lasting neurobehavioral effects in the offspring.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, USA.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Duke University Medical Center, USA.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, USA. Electronic address:


Studies of intergenerational effects of parental chemical exposure have principally focused on maternal exposure, particularly for studies of adverse neurobehavioral consequences on the offspring. Maternal nicotine exposure has long been known to cause adverse neurobehavioral effects on the offspring. However, paternal toxicant exposure has also been found to cause neurobehavioral toxicity in their offspring. Recent work suggests that paternal nicotine exposure can have epigenetic effects, although it remains unclear whether such changes lead to neurobehavioral effects. In the current study, we investigated the effects of paternal nicotine exposure on neurobehavioral development of their offspring. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to 0 or 2 mg/kg/day nicotine (sc) for 56 consecutive days with two consecutive 2ML4 osmotic minipumps. Following treatment, these males were mated with drug-naïve female rats. Offspring of both sexes were tested in a behavioral battery to assess locomotion, emotional function and cognition. Paternal nicotine exposure did not impact offspring viability, health or growth. However, behavioral function of the offspring was significantly altered by paternal nicotine exposure. Male offspring with paternal nicotine exposure exhibited locomotor hyperactivity in the Figure-8 apparatus when tested during adolescence. When retested in adulthood and regardless of sex, offspring of the nicotine exposed father showed significantly reduced habituation of locomotor activity over the course of the session. Compared to controls, female offspring of nicotine-exposed fathers showed significantly reduced response latency in the radial arm maze test. In addition to locomotor hyperactivity, the offspring of nicotine-exposed fathers also showed significantly diminished habituation in the novel object recognition test. These results indicate that chronic paternal nicotine exposure can impact the behavior of offspring, producing locomotor hyperactivity and impaired habituation.


Behavior; Locomotor activity; Nicotine; Offspring; Paternal; Rat

[Available on 2020-07-01]

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