Effects of fetal and neonatal exposure to nicotine on blood pressure and perivascular adipose tissue function in adult life

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In Wistar rats, maternal exposure to nicotine was shown to impair the inhibitory function of perivascular adipose tissue on vascular contractility in the aorta of the offspring. It is not known whether an impairment of perivascular adipose tissue function occurs in smaller arteries, and whether the control of blood pressure is affected. Here we studied the blood pressure effects and the alteration of perivascular adipose tissue function in mesenteric arteries of the offspring born to Wistar-Kyoto rat (WKY) dams exposed to nicotine. Nulliparous female WKY rats were given either nicotine bitartrate (1 mg/kg/day) or saline (vehicle) by subcutaneous injection 2 weeks prior to mating, during pregnancy and until weaning. Blood pressure of the offspring and functional studies with mesenteric arteries were conducted. Tissue samples (thoracic aorta, mesenteric arteries, and kidneys) were collected for morphological and immunohistochemical examinations. Blood pressure increased from 14 weeks of age onwards in the offspring born to nicotine-exposed dams. Nicotine-exposed offspring showed a significant increase in the number of brown adipocytes in aortic perivascular adipose tissue relative to control offspring. In mesenteric arteries from control offspring, contractile responses induced by phenylephrine, serotonin, and 9,11-dideoxy-11alpha, 9alpha-epoxymethanoprostaglandin F2alpha (U44619) were significantly attenuated in the presence of perivascular adipose tissue, an effect not observed in the nicotine-exposed tissues. Endothelium-dependent relaxation responses to carbachol, kidney weight, the total number of nephrons and glomerulus' size were comparable in nicotine and saline groups. We conclude that fetal and neonatal exposure to nicotine caused blood pressure elevation. Alterations in perivascular adipose tissue composition and modulatory function are some of the mechanisms associated with this blood pressure increase.

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