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Original Research

RMJ. 2014; 39(3): 331-336

Neuromorphometric analysis of the lateral prefrontal cortex of young Wistar rats exposed to nicotine in utero

Gabriel Olaiya Omotoso, Oluwole Busayo Akinola, Bernardd Ufuoma Enaibe, Ezekiel Ademola Caxton-Martins.


Objective: The safety of nicotine use in pregnancy has been a matter of debate vis-à-vis its effects on the mother and the developing foetus. The current study examined the effect of prenatal nicotine administration during neurodevelopment on some morphometric parameters of neurons and the implication on neurologic functions after birth.
Methods: Twenty female Wistar rats were time mated and grouped into two main groups (A and B), each subdivided into a Control (A1 and B1) and a Treatment subgroup (A2 and B2). Control animals received 0.1 ml normal saline, while treatment groups received 13.76 mg/kg/d nicotine intraperitoneally. Administration was for 5 consecutive days between day 9-13 of the 2nd gestational week (Group A) and day 16-20 of the 3rd gestational week (Group B). At delivery, the weights of the pups were taken and also at postnatal day 15 prior to sacrifice. Animals were anaesthesised with ketamine and perfused transcardially with saline and 4% paraformaldehyde. Tissues were processed for Nissl staining using cresyl fast violet, and analysed for histochemical and morphometric changes.
Results: Findings included low birth weights, altered brain growth pattern, altered neuronal morphology and low neuronal indices.
Conclusions: The neuronal morphological and morphometric changes observed in this study could underlie many of the neurobehavioural abnormalities seen in offspring prenatally exposed to nicotine during neurodevelopment.

Key words: Neurodevelopment, lateral prefrontal cortex, prenatal nicotine

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