It is well known that ketamine abuse can induce liver damage in adult addicts, but the effects of ketamine abuse in pregnant mothers on their offspring have received less attention. In this study, we investigated the effects of 5-day ketamine injections (30 mg/kg) to pregnant Institute for Cancer Research (ICR) mice during early gestation or mid-gestation on the aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activities of the mothers and the offspring. We also looked into whether administering ketamine treatment to the mothers had any effects on the extent of fibrosis, cell proliferation and cell death in the livers of the newborns. No significant biochemical differences were found between treatment and control groups in the mothers. In the offspring, ketamine treatment mildly suppressed the gradual increase of hepatic AST activity in neonates during liver maturation. Measurements of hepatic ALP activity and lactic acid dehydrogenase (LDH) immunoreactivity revealed that ketamine treatment may lead to increased cell death. Proliferation of liver cells of the newborns was also retarded as shown by reduced proliferative cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) immunoreactivity in the ketamine groups. No obvious fibrosis was evident. Thus, we demonstrated that ketamine administration to pregnant mice suppressed hepatic development and also induced liver cell death of the offspring.
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