Nicotine, a known neuroteratogen, can cause central respiratory disorders, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), in infants born to mothers that smoked during pregnancy. It is thought that nicotine causes developmental alterations in neurons located in respiratory control centers of the medulla. My project focuses on studying the cellular effects of nicotine on neurons in the preBotzinger complex and the hypoglossal motor nucleus; both are regions critical to respiratory control. Specifically, I am interested in the consequences of prenatal nicotine exposure on fast inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmission involving GABA-A and AMPA receptors, respectively, in these 2 regions of the brainstem. The studies involve using Western blotting and immunohistochemistry to examine receptor expression and electrophysiology to assess neurotransmission in the areas of interest.
Ralph Fregosi, Ph.D.
The conseequences of developmental nicotine exposure on neonatal central respiratory control