Effects of fetal exposure to nicotine on dental development of the laboratory rat

Imran G. Chowdhury, Timothy G. Bromage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nicotine is one of the most widely used toxins in the world today. Most addiction research relating to nicotine in particular, as well as opioids and alcohol, has concentrated on the cellular and molecular biology of the mammalian brain and on features of organ structure and physiology associated with substance abuse. Thus, while numerous studies have been conducted to examine nicotine's detrimental physiological effects in a variety of soft tissues, this investigation attempts to examine further the gross morphological consequences of this drug on a hard tissue, the first molar crown of the laboratory rat. It is hypothesised that by providing nicotine to rats during and after the fetal cycle, changes in dental structure will occur, owing to perturbations of development induced by this toxin. The dentitions of Fisher rats exposed to nicotine during and after the fetal cycle, and those of their non-treated controls, were examined. By carefully measuring the length, width and occlusal (chewing) areas of the first maxillary molars, it was possible to identify any gross morphological effects of nicotine on dental development. It was found that dental asymmetries (calculated as a size difference between a tooth and its antimere) were significantly increased while occlusal areas were significantly decreased in nicotine-exposed rats compared to control rats. In addition, significant differences were detected within the experimental group, females tending to exhibit the deleterious effects of nicotine more so than males. These results are in accordance with the predicted outcome; in similar studies of physiological systems and soft tissues, dental development is affected by the presence of nicotine. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-405
Number of pages9
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2000


  • Dental development
  • Fetal
  • Nicotine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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