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First published online October 12, 2016

Postnatal Cardiovascular Consequences in the Offspring of Pregnant Rats Exposed to Smoking and Smoking Cessation Pharmacotherapies


Approximately 20% of pregnant women smoke despite intentions to quit. Smoking cessation drugs, such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and bupropion, are recommended treatments. Adverse cardiovascular outcomes in offspring have raised concerns about NRT’s safety during pregnancy. However, the effect of bupropion is unknown. Using a rat model, we determined whether NRT and bupropion interventions during pregnancy are safer than continued smoking on offspring’s cardiovascular function. Male offspring of controls and dams exposed to cigarette smoke (1.6 packs/day, inhalation), nicotine (2 mg/kg/d subcutaneously), and bupropion (13 mg/kg twice daily orally) were assessed for fetoplacental weight, cardiac function, blood pressure, and vascular reactivity. Fetoplacental weights were decreased and spontaneous beating and intracellular calcium in neonatal cardiomyocytes were increased in smoking, nicotine, and bupropion offspring; however, these effects were more accentuated in smoking followed by nicotine and bupropion offspring. Increased heart rate and decreased cardiac output, stroke volume, and left ventricular percent posterior wall thickening were observed in smoking, nicotine, and bupropion offspring. The left ventricular mass was reduced in smoking and nicotine but not in bupropion offspring. Blood pressure was higher with decreased endothelium-dependent relaxation and exaggerated vascular contraction to angiotensin II in smoking and nicotine offspring, with more pronounced dysfunctions in smoking than nicotine offspring. Maternal bupropion did not impact offspring’s blood pressure, endothelium-dependent relaxation, and vascular contraction. In conclusion, maternal nicotine intervention adversely affects offspring’s cardiovascular outcomes, albeit less severely than continued smoking. However, bupropion causes cardiac derangement in offspring but does not adversely affect blood pressure and vascular function.

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Published In

Article first published online: October 12, 2016
Issue published: June 2017


  1. nicotine
  2. bupropion
  3. offspring
  4. cardiac function
  5. vascular function

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© The Author(s) 2016.


Published online: October 12, 2016
Issue published: June 2017
PubMed: 27733658



Kathirvel Gopalakrishnan, PhD
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA
Amar S. More, PhD
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA
Gary D. Hankins, MD
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA
Tatiana N. Nanovskaya, PhD
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA
Sathish Kumar, PhD
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA


Sathish Kumar, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Blvd. Galveston, TX 77555-1062, USA. Email: [email protected]

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