The effects of in utero cocaine exposure on the development of the mRNAs encoding the dopamine transporter (DAT) and the D1, D2 and D5 dopamine receptor subtypes were determined in fetal monkey brains at day 45 and day 60 of gestation. Pregnant monkeys were treated with cocaine 3 mg/kg or saline i.m., four times a day from day 18 of gestation until the pregnancy was terminated at day 45 or day 60. The fetal brains were dissected, and tissue RNA extracted and quantified using ribonuclease protection assay analysis. In day 45 fetal monkeys, dopamine D1 and D2 receptor subtype mRNAs and DAT mRNA were found in low quantities both in control and cocaine-treated subjects. In day 60 fetal monkeys, D1 receptor mRNA levels were highest in the frontal cortex/striatal area, and low to moderate quantities were found in diencephalic and mesencephalic fetal brain regions. Dopamine D2 receptor mRNA levels were highest in the frontal cortex/striatal area, diencephalon and the midbrain, moderate in the brainstem and low in the caudal temporal lobe and surrounding cortical areas. Dopamine D5 receptor mRNA was expressed in low quantities throughout the day 60 fetal monkey brain, whereas DAT mRNA was found in the midbrain only. In utero cocaine exposure caused a significant increase in dopamine D1, D2 and D5 receptor subtype mRNAs in the frontal cortex/striatal area of day 60 fetal monkeys. These results support the hypothesis that dopamine synthesis and release may be reduced in cocaine-treated fetuses, which results in dopamine receptor up-regulation.
- fetal monkey brain
- ribonuclease protection assay
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Developmental Biology