Maternal nicotine exposure during gestation and lactation adversely affects lung development in the offspring. It has been suggested that the "program" that control long-term maintenance of the structural integrity of the lung may be compromised. The aim of the study was to study the long-term effect of maternal nicotine exposure on the structural integrity of the lungs of the offspring, and secondly to determine whether supplementing the mother's diet with tomato juice, as a rich source of antioxidants such as lycopene, will prevent the effects of nicotine on the lungs of the offspring. Wistar rats were used in the study. After mating the rats were randomly divided into three groups. One group received nicotine (1 mg/kg body weight/day); a second group received tomato juice; and a third group received nicotine and tomato juice. The controls receive saline. Morphological and morphometric techniques were used to evaluate changes in the lung structure of the offspring at postnatal days 21, 42, 63, and 84. Neither nicotine nor tomato juice had any effect on the growth of the offspring. Although maternal nicotine exposure during gestation and lactation had no effect on the lung parenchyma of the offspring up to weaning, deterioration, and other structural changes started to appear around postnatal day 42, that is, 3 weeks after weaning and thus the onset of nicotine withdrawal. Microscopic emphysema was apparent at postnatal day 42, the increase in male and female lung volume from postnatal day 63 and thickening of the alveolar walls at postnatal day 84. All these nicotine-induced structural changes were prevented by supplementing the mother's diet with tomato juice.
Copyright © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.