Perinatal nicotine-induced transgenerational asthma

Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2013 Oct 1;305(7):L501-7. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00078.2013. Epub 2013 Aug 2.


Asthma is a major public health hazard worldwide. Its transgenerational inheritance has been inferred from epidemiological studies. More recently, using nicotine as a proxy for maternal smoking, we have demonstrated that an asthma-like phenotype can be inherited by rat offspring for up to two generations, i.e., multigenerationally, after the initial intrauterine exposure. We hypothesized that asthma transmission to offspring following perinatal nicotine exposure is not restricted up to F2 generation, but it also extends to subsequent generations. To test this hypothesis, using a well-established rat model of nicotine exposure-induced childhood asthma, we determined if perinatal nicotine exposure of F0 gestating dams would transmit asthma transgenerationally to F3 offspring. We now extend our findings to third-generation offspring, including abnormal pulmonary function, particularly as it relates to the occurrence in the upper airway exclusively in males, and to its effects on molecular functional markers (fibronectin and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ), previously shown to be consistent with the asthma phenotype, herein expressed in fibroblasts isolated from the lung. These data, for the first time, demonstrate the transgenerational transmission of the asthma phenotype to F3 offspring following perinatal nicotine exposure of F0 dams.

Keywords: maternal smoking; peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ; pulmonary function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Female
  • Fibronectins / metabolism
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure*
  • Nicotine / adverse effects*
  • PPAR gamma / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Rats
  • Smoking / adverse effects*


  • Fibronectins
  • PPAR gamma
  • Nicotine