Gestational cocaine treatment in rat dams results in decreased oxytocin (OT) levels, up-regulated oxytocin receptor (OTR) binding density and decreased receptor affinity in the whole amygdala, all concomitant with a significant increase in maternal aggression on postpartum day six. Rat dams with no gestational drug treatment that received an infusion of an OT antagonist directly into the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) exhibited similarly high levels of maternal aggression towards intruders. Additionally, studies indicate that decreased OT release from the hypothalamic division of the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) is coincident with heightened maternal aggression in rats. Thus, it appears that cocaine-induced alterations in OT system dynamics (levels, receptors, production, and/or release) may mediate heightened maternal aggression following cocaine treatment, but the exact mechanisms through which cocaine impacts the OT system have not yet been determined. Based on previous studies, we hypothesized that two likely mechanisms of cocaine’s action would be, increased OTR binding specifically in the CeA, and decreased OT mRNA production in the PVN. Autoradiography and in situ hybridization assays were performed on targeted nuclei in brain regions of rat dams on postpartum day six, following gestational treatment twice daily with cocaine (15 mg/kg) or normal saline (1 ml/kg). We now report cocaine-induced reductions in OTR binding density in the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), but not the CeA. There was no significant change in OT mRNA production in the PVN following cocaine treatment.
Bed nucleus of the stria terminalis; Central nucleus of the amygdala; Cocaine; Hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus; mRNA; oxytocin; Rats; Receptors; Supraoptic nucleus; Ventral medial hypothalamus
Studies using dopaminergic and serotonergic agonists or antagonists implicate involvement of these systems in various aspects of early maternal behavior and postpartum aggression towards an intruder in rats, both of which are associated with the presence of oxytocin in specific brain regions. It is unclear however, if or how long-term uptake inhibition of either neurotransmitter system alone or in combination, affects oxytocin system dynamics or maternal behavior/aggression. Pregnant women frequently take drugs (antidepressants, cocaine) that induce long-term reuptake inhibition of dopamine and/or serotonin, thus it is important to understand these effects on behavior and biochemistry. Rat dams were treated throughout gestation with amfonelic acid, fluoxetine, or a combination of both, to investigate effects of reuptake inhibition of dopamine and serotonin systems respectively, on maternal behavior, aggression and oxytocin. The more appetitive aspects of maternal behavior (nesting, licking, touching) and activity were increased by the low dose of amfonelic acid, high dose of fluoxetine, or the high dose combination more than other treatments. Aggression was decreased by amfonelic acid and somewhat increased by fluoxetine. Dopamine uptake inhibition appears to have a strong effect on hippocampal oxytocin levels, while receptor dynamics may be more strongly affected by serotonin uptake inhibition.
Amfonelic acid; Fluoxetine; Dopamine; Serotonin; Reuptake inhibition; Oxytocin; Maternal behavior; Maternal aggression
We examined the effects of gestational cocaine treatment on oxytocin levels in the whole hippocampus (HIP), ventral tegmental area (VTA), medial preoptic area (MPOA) and amygdala (AMY) in rat dams on postpartum days (PPDs) 1 and 2. Cocaine treatment significantly reduced oxytocin levels in the MPOA within 12–16 h of delivery (PPD 1), but had no significant effect on the other brain areas. Oxytocin was significantly reduced in the HIP and VTA but not in the AMY or MPOA on PPD 2. These data provide the first evidence for the reduction of oxytocin levels in the VTA, HIP and MPOA as a result of gestational cocaine treatment.
Gestational cocaine treatment results in significantly increased maternal aggression towards an intruder by postpartum day six, while acute postpartum treatment dose dependently decreases maternal aggressive (MA) behavior. Both increased and decreased aggression in the cocaine-treated dams are correlated with either decreased or increased levels of oxytocin in the amygdala, respectively. The current study was an effort to determine whether the effect of gestational cocaine on maternal aggression is transient or would continue into the postpartum period; whether an intermittent cocaine treatment regimen, which incorporates gestational and postpartum intermittent cocaine treatment, would differ from chronic daily gestational treatment; and finally, whether next generation female offspring of cocaine-treated or control dams would have altered MA behavior and oxytocin system changes attributable to either prenatal drug exposure, rearing condition or both. We now report no increase in maternal aggression following chronic gestational treatment and significantly lower levels of aggression in intermittently treated dams on postpartum day eight, with no significant effects in either group on postpartum day 12. Young adult female offspring of the cocaine-treated and control dams, who reared their own natural litters and were tested on postpartum day eight for maternal aggression, had higher levels of maternal aggression towards an intruder attributable to both prenatal cocaine exposure and rearing condition. Higher aggression in cocaine-reared next generation dams was associated with lower levels of oxytocin in the amygdala. Intergenerational effects of cocaine were apparent with respect to aggression and oxytocin system changes.
Cocaine; intergenerational transmission; maternal aggression; oxytocin; stress
Alcohol consumption and smoking during pregnancy is common, despite the known adverse effects of these drugs on fetal development. Though studies on the effects of each drug separately are published, little is known about the effect of concurrent use of alcohol and nicotine in humans or in preclinical models. In this report, we examined the impact of continuous gestational exposure to both ethanol via liquid diet and nicotine via an osmotic minipump on maternal behavior, offspring ethanol intake, and oxytocin levels in a rat model. Dams were tested for the onset of maternal behavior with litters of unexposed surrogate pups and then killed to examine oxytocin levels within specific brain regions. Drug-exposed offspring reared by surrogate dams were tested for ethanol intake at either adolescence or adulthood, and oxytocin levels were measured in relevant brain regions after behavioral tests. Dams exhibited minor deficits in maternal care, which were associated with lower oxytocin levels in both the ventral tegmental and medial preoptic areas compared to control dams. Prenatal exposure altered sex-specific ethanol intake, with differential effects at adolescence and adulthood. Oxytocin system changes were also apparent in the ventral tegmental and medial preoptic regions of drug-exposed adolescent and adult offspring. These results suggest that dam treatment with ethanol and nicotine can somewhat negatively affect the early rearing environment, and that prenatal exposure to both of these drugs results in drinking behavior differing from what would be expected from either drug alone. Oxytocin’s possible involvement in the mediation of these effects is highlighted.
Prenatal Alcohol; Prenatal Nicotine; Maternal Behavior; Oxytocin; Alcohol Drinking; Development
Prior research reported decreased oxytocin levels in specific brain regions correlated with disruptions in maternal care following gestational cocaine treatment in rats. Similarly, prenatal exposure to cocaine impaired subsequent maternal behavior in adulthood, but behavioral alterations were not associated with decreases in oxytocin levels in the same brain regions as were found in their cocaine-treated rat dams. To determine if other aspects of the oxytocin system are disrupted by cocaine treatment or prenatal exposure to cocaine during critical time points associated with maternal care, oxytocin mRNA transcription and receptor binding were examined on postpartum day two in relevant brain regions following gestational treatment with, or prenatal exposure to, either cocaine or saline. We hypothesized that oxytocin mRNA levels and receptor binding would be differentially affected by cocaine in the early postpartum period of dams and their offspring. Our findings indicate that gestational cocaine treatment resulted in significant increases in oxytocin mRNA levels in only the paraventricular nucleus of cocaine-treated dams, with almost significant increases in both generations in the supraoptic nucleus, but no significant effects of cocaine on receptor binding in either generation of dams. These findings indicate that in addition to oxytocin levels, cocaine treatment or prenatal exposure primarily affects oxytocin mRNA synthesis, with little effect on receptor binding in specific brain regions associated with maternal behavior in the early postpartum period of the rat.
Oxytocin Receptor; Oxytocin mRNA; Cocaine; Intergenerational; Maternal Behavior
The incidences of alimentary and respiratory illnesses were observed during the first year of life in 1565 infants born in Tayside during 1980. Significant correlations (p less than 0.05) were found between each of these outcomes and parental smoking, maternal age, social class, method of infant feeding, and heating fuels. Multiple logistic regression indicated a significant independent effect of parental smoking was related separately to alimentary and to respiratory outcomes, the relative risks being of similar strength.
The relation between respiratory illness and the use of gas for cooking was examined from data on 1565 infants born to mothers who were primigravidas living in Dundee in 1980. Episodes of, and admissions to hospital for, respiratory illness were recorded during the first year of life. Both admissions and episodes were more common in infants from families using gas for cooking or heating than in infants from families using any other type of cooking or heating, but the differences were not significant. Results from this and other studies show that there is probably a small relation between respiratory illness and the use of gas appliances without a flue. To show convincingly whether such a relation exists might require a survey of 18 000-23 000 subjects. Respiratory illness was, however, strongly and positively related to parental smoking, a finding that is often made even in small studies.
A review of neonatal special and intensive care units in the UK in 1980-81 shows that although the number of cot/incubator units provided for special care conforms with current recommendations, there is a contrasting shortfall of 40% in cot/incubator units for intensive care. Admission policies are vague, vary considerably, and not all units are engaged in the type of care for which they are officially intended. Many units would admit fewer babies if the number and level of expertise of nursing staff in postnatal wards was improved. Rationalisation and redistribution of facilities seems advisable. The number of trained nurses falls far short of those recommended. Almost 21% of units had no formal staffing establishment, and of those that did less than half were filled. The total number of nurses of all ranks and experience failed to reach recommended levels, as did the ratio of trained staff to 'others'. Recruitment of nurses to this specialty is slow and the high turnover rate endangers maintenance of high standards and continuity of patient care.
Nalorphine and naloxone were compared as to their effectiveness as pethidine antagonists. 85 infants were divided into a control group containing 19 newborn babies whose mothers did not receive pethidine and the babies received no antagonist, and three groups in which the mothers all received pethidine and the babies had either no antagonist (24), nalorphine IV (16), or naloxone IV (26). All the babies were assessed by measuring their neurobehavioural states and respiratory functions. A further 12 newborn babies had naloxone plasma levels measured by radioimmunoassay. Although standard doses of nalorphine effectively antagonised the depressive effect on respiration induced by pethidine, there was a pronounced and undesirable excitatory agonist action. Naloxone was not observed to have any agonist activity, but the recommended IV dose (0.01 mg/kg) had only a slight and delayed antagonist action as measured by respiratory function tests. A more rapid and improved antagonism was noted after this dose was doubled (0.02 mg/kg). The plasma elimination-phase half-life of naloxone after intravenous cord injection was about 3 hours.20