Nicotine is a teratogen in rats and possibly in humans. Vaccination against nicotine is being studied as a possible treatment for nicotine dependence. The safety of maternal vaccination against nicotine during or prior to pregnancy is not known. In this study, female rats were vaccinated and then administered acute or chronic nicotine during pregnancy at doses simulating nicotine exposure in smokers. Maternal vaccination reduced nicotine distribution to both maternal brain (44-47%) and fetal brain (17-39%) for up to 25 min after a single maternal nicotine dose administered on gestational day (GD) 20, but had a smaller effect on nicotine distribution to brain after continuous nicotine infusion. Nicotine distribution to maternal or fetal brain after repeated nicotine bolus doses was reduced immediately following an individual dose in vaccinated rats, but the chronic accumulation of nicotine in fetal brain was not altered. Nicotine distribution to whole fetus, in contrast to fetal brain, was generally not altered by vaccination. Nicotine-specific antibody concentration in fetal serum was 10% that of maternal serum, and in fetal brain was <1% of maternal serum. Although nicotine transfer to the whole fetus was not reduced by vaccination, protein binding data suggest that nicotine-specific antibody transferred from mother to fetus served to bind nicotine in fetal serum, reduce the unbound nicotine concentration, and thereby reduce nicotine distribution to fetal brain. These data comment on the safety of vaccination against nicotine during pregnancy, and suggest that vaccination may reduce the distribution of nicotine to fetal brain under some nicotine dosing conditions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Supported by NIDA grants DA15668, DA10714, P50-DA13333 and P50-HL61193.