Prenatal Nicotine Alters Nicotinic Receptor Development in the Mouse Brain
This Research was conducted to determine whether or not prenatal (prenatal being the time after conception but before birth; gestation) exposure to nicotine would alter nicotinic receptors in the brains of mice. This research was initiated because although there is conclusive evidence that maternal (referring to the pregnant mother) smoking during pregnancy may effect the development of a child, little is known about the mechanisms that are potentially responsible for these effects.
As it is well known, maternal smoking may result in pregnancy complications, low birth weight, a higher prenatal mortality rate, and long term effects on the physical, emotional, and intellectual development of a child. Nicotine being the most potent psychoactive component of tobacco, it was the most suspected cause of these birth defects and physiological changes therefore sparking this research.
In order for this research to be valid, a mammalian subject with brain responses relatively close to that of humans had to be chosen for the testing. Another aspect taken into consideration was obviously an ethics/moral issue: since the animals had to be sacrificed in order to conduct the research, they had to be dispensable and relatively meaningless. (No cute and cuddly one’s either!) Selecting mice compromised this happy medium. Although the neurological workings are greatly different and much more simplex in a mouse than in a human, the basic responses would still be intact therefore the research would give sufficient usable data that could be used for beneficial study. Not to mention, mice aren’t that cute and are pretty plentiful in the grand scheme of the Eco-system. (That should keep Meryll Streep and Jane Fonda in line)
The Chemicals used in this study were a chemical form of nicotine, a similar chemical that deals with the same receptors as nicotine, and a straight saline solution. These three solutions were tested in three separate groups: nicotine infused, a saline infused, and a control.
After the mice were mated and conception was guaranteed (the formation of vaginal plugs detected), the mothers were separated into three separate groups. Approximately 1 day after conception, the three testing agents (chemicals) began to be administered to the three test groups. Upon parturition (giving birth), the mothers immediately stopped receiving the chemicals and they and their litters were secluded into their own cages apart from the other...