PloS one

Exposure of Neonatal Mice to Tobacco Smoke Disturbs Synaptic Proteins and Spatial Learning and Memory from Late Infancy to Early Adulthood.

PMID 26305213


Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in the early postnatal period has been associated with several diseases; however, little is known about the brain effects of ETS exposure during this critical developmental period or the long-term consequences of this exposure. This study investigated the effects of the early postnatal ETS exposure on both reference and working memory, synaptic proteins and BDNF from late infancy to early adulthood (P3-P73). BALB/c mice were exposed to ETS generated from 3R4F reference research cigarettes (0.73 mg of nicotine/cigarette) from P3 to P14. Spatial reference and working memory were evaluated in the Morris water maze during infancy (P20-P29), adolescence (P37-P42) and adulthood (P67-P72). Synapsin, synaptophysin, PSD95 and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) were assessed at P15, P35 and P65 by immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting. Mice that were exposed to ETS during the early postnatal period showed poorer performance in the spatial reference memory task. Specifically, the ETS-exposed mice exhibited a significantly reduced time and distance traveled in the target quadrant and in the platform location area than the controls at all ages evaluated. In the spatial working memory task, ETS disrupted the maintenance but not the acquisition of the critical spatial information in both infancy and adolescence. ETS also induced changes in synaptic components, including decreases in synapsin, synaptophysin, PSD95 and BDNF levels in the hippocampus. Exposure to ETS in the early postnatal period disrupts both spatial reference and working memory; these results may be related to changes in synaptogenesis in the hippocampus. Importantly, most of these effects were not reversed even after a long exposure-free period.