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Toxics 2018, 6(4), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics6040063

Toxic Effect of Cigarette Smoke on Brainstem Nicotinic Receptor Expression: Primary Cause of Sudden Unexplained Perinatal Death

“Lino Rossi” Research Center for the Study and Prevention of Unexpected Perinatal Death and SIDS, Department of Biomedical, Surgical and Dental Sciences, University of Milan, 20122 Milan, Italy
Received: 30 August 2018 / Revised: 26 September 2018 / Accepted: 16 October 2018 / Published: 18 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prenatal Exposure to Toxics and Risks in Infants)
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Abstract

Among the neurotoxicants contained in tobacco smoke, if absorbed during pregnancy, nicotine significantly affects α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, which play essential roles in the development of the brainstem regions receiving cholinergic projections in perinatal life. Immunohistochemical procedures for analysing formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded brainstem samples from 68 fetuses and early newborns, with smoking and non-smoking mothers, who died of known and unknown causes, were carried out in order to determine if nicotine had activated the α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. High α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor expression levels were only observed in the victims with smoking mothers. Frequently, these findings were associated with the hypoplasia of the brainstem structures controlling vital functions. The results of this study indicate that the exposition to nicotine in pregnancy exerts a strong direct effect on α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor activity especially in perinatal life and may be one of the primary risk factors leading to the sudden unexplained death of fetuses and newborns. View Full-Text
Keywords: nicotine; nicotinic acetylcholine receptors; immunohistochemistry; sudden fetal death; sudden neonatal death; brainstem; Kölliker-Fuse nucleus nicotine; nicotinic acetylcholine receptors; immunohistochemistry; sudden fetal death; sudden neonatal death; brainstem; Kölliker-Fuse nucleus
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Lavezzi, A.M. Toxic Effect of Cigarette Smoke on Brainstem Nicotinic Receptor Expression: Primary Cause of Sudden Unexplained Perinatal Death. Toxics 2018, 6, 63.

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