Perinatal exposure to environmental tobacco smoke upregulates nicotinic cholinergic receptors in monkey brain

Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 2002 Feb 28;133(2):175-9. doi: 10.1016/s0165-3806(02)00281-x.


In humans, perinatal exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is associated with neurobehavioral deficits. In the current study, we exposed Rhesus monkeys to ETS in late gestation and in the early neonatal period, and examined changes in neurotransmitter receptors in the brainstem and caudal portion of the cerebral cortex. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors were markedly upregulated and the effect was selective in that there were no changes in m(2)-muscarinic acetylcholine receptors or in beta-adrenergic receptors. Nicotinic receptor upregulation is indicative of chronic cell stimulation by nicotine, and is a hallmark of nicotine-induced neuroteratogenesis. These results indicate that perinatal ETS exposes the fetus and neonate to quantities of nicotine that are sufficient to alter brain development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Macaca mulatta / embryology*
  • Macaca mulatta / growth & development
  • Macaca mulatta / metabolism
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Radioligand Assay
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M2
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / drug effects
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / metabolism
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / drug effects
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / metabolism
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / metabolism
  • Tobacco / toxicity*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects*
  • Up-Regulation / physiology


  • Receptor, Muscarinic M2
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta
  • Receptors, Muscarinic
  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution