Alterations of serotonin synaptic proteins in brain regions of neonatal Rhesus monkeys exposed to perinatal environmental tobacco smoke

Theodore A. Slotkin, Kent E Pinkerton, Charlotte A. Tate, Frederic J. Seidler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Scopus citations


Serotonin (5HT) systems play important roles in brain development, and early perturbations of 5HT receptor expression produce permanent changes in 5HT synaptic function and associated behaviors. We exposed pregnant Rhesus monkeys to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) during gestation and for up to 3 months postnatally and examined the expression of 5HT1A and 5HT2 receptors, and of the presynaptic 5HT transporter in brain regions containing 5HT projections (frontal, temporal and occipital cortex) and cell bodies (midbrain). Perinatal ETS exposure elicited upregulation of 5HT1A receptor expression without parallel changes in the other two proteins, a pattern consistent with specific 5HT receptor dysregulation, rather than universal disruption of 5HT synaptic development. The effects seen here for ETS in a primate model are virtually identical in direction, magnitude and regional selectivity to those obtained previously for prenatal nicotine administration in rats. Specifically, early 5HT1A overexpression alters the program for future synaptic and behavioral 5HT responses, thus providing a mechanistic link for the shared effects of ETS and nicotine on a specific pathway responsible for behavioral anomalies associated with perinatal tobacco exposure. These results reinforce the need to reduce ETS exposure of pregnant women and young children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-35
Number of pages6
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 21 2006



  • Brain development
  • Environmental tobacco smoke
  • Serotonin receptor
  • Serotonin transporter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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