Sex-specific effects of nicotine exposure on developmental programming of blood pressure and vascular reactivity in the C57Bl/6J mouse

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Sep;207(3):208.e1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2012.06.021. Epub 2012 Jul 11.


Objective: The objective of the study was to determine whether perinatal nicotine exposure adversely affects cardiovascular health in adulthood.

Study design: C57Bl/6J female mice were randomized to 200 μg/mL nicotine in 2% saccharin or 2% saccharin alone from 2 weeks before breeding until weaning. Offspring weight, vital signs, and carotid artery vascular reactivity were studied. A second cohort was subjected to shaker stress on day 4 of 7 days. Selected mediators of vascular tone were evaluated by molecular studies. Student t or Mann-Whitney U test was performed for statistical analysis (significance: P < .05).

Results: Nicotine-exposed compared with control female offspring had significantly elevated mean blood pressure under normal and stress conditions. Nicotine females lacked heart rate elevation after stress. Nicotine males had higher mean heart rate and a blunted contractile response to phenylephrine compared with controls, without an increase in blood pressure.

Conclusion: Perinatal nicotine exposure has an impact on the developmental programming of future cardiovascular health, with adverse effects more evident in female offspring.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Blood Vessels / drug effects*
  • Blood Vessels / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nicotine / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced*
  • Sex Factors


  • Nicotine