Physiology and Pharmacology Publications

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 4-2018


Toxicological Sciences



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Globally, approximately 10-25% of women smoke during pregnancy. Since nicotine is highly addictive, women may use nicotine containing products like nicotine replacement therapies for smoking cessation, but the long-term consequences of early life exposure to nicotine remain poorly defined. Our laboratory has previously demonstrated that maternal nicotine exposed (MNE) rat offspring exhibit hypertriglyceridemia due to increased hepatic de novo lipogenesis. Hypertriglyceridemia may also be attributed to impaired white adipose tissue (WAT) lipid storage; however, the effects of MNE on WAT are not completely understood. We hypothesize that nicotine-induced alterations in adipose function (e.g. lipid storage) underlie dyslipidemia in MNE adults. Female 6 month old rats exposed to nicotine during gestation and lactation exhibited significantly decreased visceral adipocyte cell area by 40%, attributed, in part, to a 3-fold increase in adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL) protein expression compared to vehicle. Given ATGL has antioxidant properties and in utero nicotine exposure promotes oxidative stress in various tissues, we next investigated if there was evidence of increased oxidative stress in MNE WAT. At both 3 weeks and 6 months, MNE offspring expressed 37-48% higher protein levels of SOD1 and SOD2 in WAT. Since oxidative stress can induce inflammation, we examined the inflammatory profile of WAT and found increased expression of cytokines (IL-1β, TNFα, and IL-6) by 44-61% at 6 months. Collectively, this suggests that the expression of WAT ATGL may be induced to counter MNE-induced oxidative stress and inflammation. However, higher levels of ATGL would further promote lipolysis in WAT, culminating in impaired lipid storage and long-term dyslipidemia.