Physiology and Pharmacology Publications

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Nicotine exposure during pregnancy through cigarette smoking, nicotine replacement therapies or e-cigarette use continues to be awidespread public health problem, impacting both fetal and postnatal health. Yet, at this time, there remains limited data regarding the safety and efficacy in using these nicotine products during pregnancy. Notably, reports assessing the effect of nicotine exposure on postnatal health outcomes in humans, including reproductive health, are severely lacking. Our current understanding regarding the consequences of nicotine exposure during pregnancy is limited to a few animal studies, which do not comprehensively address the underlying cellular mechanisms involved. This paper aims to critically review the current knowledge from human and animal studies regarding the direct and indirect effects (e.g., obesity) of maternal nicotine exposure, regardless of its source, on reproductive outcomes in pregnancy and postnatal life. Furthermore, this review highlights several key cellular mechanisms involved in these adverse reproductive deficits including oxidative stress, inflammation, and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. By understanding the interplay of the cellular mechanisms involved, further strategies could be developed to prevent the reproductive abnormalities resulting from exposure to nicotine in utero and influence informed clinical guidelines for pregnant women.