Adult stem cells in the hippocampus, the area of the brain most connected to learning and memory, continue to divide and produce new cells over a lifetime. The UAB team showed that exposing rats to nicotine during pregnancy leads to a decrease in the number of new cells in the hippocampus.
"Failure to correctly incorporate newborn cells into the circuitry of the hippocampus — and the resulting disruption of neural pathways essential to learning — could account for some of the behavioral problems observed later in the lives of children of mothers who smoke during pregnancy," said Robin Lester, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology and primary investigator. "These problems could include various cognitive deficits, learning difficulties, ADHD and an increased predisposition to drugs of abuse."
The World Health Organization reports that approximately 20 percent of women continue to smoke during pregnancy. Lester says the findings indicate that the insult resulting from gestational nicotine exposure may be one cause for learning disabilities in children and could provide a brain-circuitry mechanism accounting for these behavioral problems.
"Nicotine, along with other addictive drugs such as cocaine and morphine, have been shown to have similar effects on newborn cells when given to older animals, but our new results with nicotine suggest that these effects are more dramatic in newborns and may indicate increased risk and/or susceptibility for damage to the learning processes during pregnancy," said Shay Hyman, a doctoral student in Lester's laboratory. "These studies should provide further reasons and/or warnings to expectant mothers that they should seek help in refraining from smoking during pregnancy."
Lester says that that it will be essential to repeat these findings under conditions that more accurately resemble human smoking behavior. This can be done by allowing rats to press a lever in order to deliver nicotine when they want, thereby effectively giving them free will to "smoke" rather than continuously exposing them to the drug.
This research was supported by a United States Public Service Grant and the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute.
Known for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is the state of Alabama's largest employer and an internationally renowned research university and academic health center; its professional schools and specialty patient-care programs are consistently ranked among the nation's top 50. Find more information at www.uab.edu and www.uabmedicine.org.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is a separate, independent institution from the University of Alabama, which is located in Tuscaloosa. Please use University of Alabama at Birmingham on first reference and UAB on second reference.VIDEO: www.youtube.com/uabnews
Bob Shepard | EurekAlert!
MicroRNA helps cancer evade immune system
19.09.2017 | Salk Institute
Ruby: Jacobs University scientists are collaborating in the development of a new type of chocolate
18.09.2017 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.
Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering