New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Medicine and conducted by Virender Rehan, MD, indicates that while smokers and their children are exposed to many dangers, nicotine exposure can also cause asthma in the smoker’s grandchildren.

During pregnancy, nicotine can affect a fetus’ lungs, possibly leading to childhood asthma. Researchers from Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in California tested the effect of nicotine exposure during pregnancy on rats. They looked not only at first generation offspring, but also at second-generation pups. Exposure while inside the uterus resulted in male and female offspring having reduced lung function consistent with asthma. It also impaired the lung function of their own offspring, even though the first generation rats were not exposed to nicotine once they were born.

The researchers also found that the expression of PPARy, a normal lung development, was reduced in first and second-generation offspring. However, treating the mothers with a synthetic version of PPARy, known to normalize lung function in nicotine exposed offspring also prevented lung damage to second-generation offspring and reestablished normal histone modification patterns in their lungs.

Source: BMC Medicine