Published: October 21, 2018 11:39:55
While women have long been warned of the dangers of smoking during pregnancy, nicotine exposure in men could lead to cognitive deficits in their children and grandchildren, researchers, including Indians, have found in their study on mice.
The results of the study investigated that although the fathers showed normal behavioral tendencies with nicotine exposure, both their male and female offspring showed hyperactivity, attention deficit and cognitive inflexibility. "Doctors should not warn men that smoking could harm their unborn child, even if the mother never smoked, and I think our study brings that to the fore," said Pradeep Bhide, a professor at Florida State University, USA.
"Our data indicate the potential for some of the cognitive disabilities in today's generation of children and adults to be due" to harmful environmental factors suffered a generation or two ago, "Bhide said.
For the study In mice, the university team spent 12 weeks producing sperm from male mice in their drinking water with low-dose nicotine, and bred the mice with drug-naive partners – patients who were not under the influence of any drugs – to produce the F1 generation. Male and female F1 mice were also bred with drug-naive partners to produce the F2 generation Both male and female F1 mice derived from nicotine-exposed males showed significant increases in spontaneous locomotor activity and significant deficits in reverse learning: the male F1 mice showed also significant deficits in attention.
In addition, results of the F2 generation showed that male mice derived from paternal nicotine-exposed female F1 mice had significant deficits in reverse learning. In addition, the study, published in the journal PLOS Biology, found that changes in the father's sperm exposed to nicotine led to problems in genes involved in memory and learning. It is believed that these epigenetic changes are transient, although some could be long term.
"In analyzing sperm from sperm, we found several genes with epigenetic alterations, including the dopamine D2 gene, which plays an important role in brain development and learning, the likely source of cognitive deficits that are found in their offspring, "said Deirdre McCarthy, University Researcher.
However, more research is needed to understand how long the changes take, says Bhide.
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