Oral nicotine consumption does not affect maternal care or early development in mice but results in modest hyperactivity in adolescence.

Heath, Christopher J.; Horst, Nicole K. and Picciotto, Marina R. (2010). Oral nicotine consumption does not affect maternal care or early development in mice but results in modest hyperactivity in adolescence. Physiology & behavior, 101(5) pp. 764–769.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.08.021

Abstract

Nicotine exposure during development can alter behavior in adulthood in mice. One route of nicotine administration that can mimic some of the dynamics of human smoking is administration of the drug to pregnant and nursing mice through the drinking water. It is critical to determine if nicotine administration has an impact on maternal behavior as such changes could lead to persistent behavioral alterations in the offspring, independent of the neuropharmacological effects of the drug. While a number of studies have detected nicotine exposure-induced changes, the effects of nicotine administration through the drinking water on maternal behavior in mice have not been examined comprehensively. In the current study we have compared maternal behaviors of C57BL/6J mice exposed to nicotine in the drinking water to behaviors of animals exposed to saccharin (vehicle) in the drinking water for the first 7days after birth of their litters and find no significant between-group differences in any behaviors measured except passive nursing. We have also assessed the effects of nicotine administration through the drinking water on postnatal weight gain of the pups and find no significant differences between groups. Open-field locomotor activity differences between exposed and unexposed offspring in adolescence were also assessed, with transient hyperactivity detected in nicotine-exposed mice. These data suggest that behavioral differences identified between animals exposed to nicotine through maternal drinking water administration are primarily due to the neuropharmacological effects of the drug and not due to effects of exposure on maternal behavior.

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