The next step in the research project I was involved in before medical school, using the nicotine vaccine to prevent the transfer of nicotine across the placenta, has advanced to the next stage. A paper was recently published in the journal Biochemical Pharmacology (2005:70(11)1664-72) showing the the vaccine significantly blocks the transfer of nicotine across the human placenta.
The adverse effects of smoking during pregnancy on fetal development are, in part, due to nicotine. These effects may be due to the actions of nicotine in fetal circulation or on placental functions. In pregnant rats, vaccination with a nicotine immunogen reduces the transfer of nicotine from the maternal to fetal circulation. However, extrapolation of these results to pregnant women might not be valid due to the well-recognized differences between human and rat placentas. In the current investigation, the effects of nicotine-specific antibodies on the transfer of nicotine from the maternal to fetal circuit of the dually perfused human placental lobule were determined. Two types of nicotine-specific antibodies were investigated; nicotine-specific mouse monoclonal antibody (Nic311, K(d) for nicotine 60nM) and IgG from rabbits vaccinated with a nicotine immunogen (Nic-IgG, K(d) 1.6nM). Transfer of the antibodies from maternal to fetal circuits was negligible. Both rabbit Nic-IgG and, to a lesser extent, mouse monoclonal Nic311 significantly reduced nicotine transfer from the maternal to fetal circuit as well as the retention of the drug by placental tissue. These effects were mediated by a substantial increase in the protein binding of nicotine and a reduction in the unbound nicotine concentration. Therefore, the data cited in this report suggest that the use of nicotine-specific antibodies might reduce fetal exposure to the drug, and that antibody affinity for nicotine is a key determinant of the extent of nicotine transfer.Posted by calv0016 at December 17, 2005 11:53 AM