Maternal crack cocaine use in rats leads to depressive- and anxiety-like behavior, memory impairment, and increased seizure susceptibility in the offspring. Academic Article uri icon


  • Crack users suffer the effects of cocaine present in the drug and the action of other active compounds from its pyrolysis. An emergent fact is an increase in the number of pregnant crack cocaine users. Studies suggest that crack cocaine and its metabolites cross the placenta, promoting premature birth, fever, irritability, sweating, and seizures in the early months of life. In children, the effects of crack cocaine have been associated with cognitive deficits, difficulty in verbalization, aggressiveness, and depression, besides enhancing the susceptibility to epileptic seizures, including status epilepticus (SE) in adulthood. Therefore, we investigated the effect of maternal exposure to smoke crack cocaine on several behavioral parameters in the offspring during adulthood. A series of behavioral tests and intrahippocampal pilocarpine (H-PILO) microinjection at sub-convulsive and convulsive doses in a rat model demonstrated that exposure to crack cocaine during the embryonic period leads to anxiogenic-like behavior and long-term memory impairment in both genders and promotes depressive-like behavior in the female. Besides, crack cocaine offspring exposed to a sub-convulsive H-PILO dose showed higher susceptibility to SE, increased seizure frequency, and neurodegeneration, while animals that received a convulsive dose of H-PILO displayed no alteration in SE severity. Taken together, our data suggest that crack cocaine exposure during the gestational period leads to an increased predilection for anxiety and depression, long-term memory deficits, and reduction in the threshold for developing epileptic seizures associated with neuronal death, which predispose crack cocaine babies to develop neuropsychological disorders.

published proceedings

  • Eur Neuropsychopharmacol

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Pacheco, A., de Melo, I. S., de Souza, F., Niccio, D., Freitas-Santos, J., Oliveira Dos Santos, Y. M., ... de Castro, O. W.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Pacheco, Amanda Larissa Dias||de Melo, Igor Santana||de Souza, Fernanda Maria Araújo||Nicácio, Dannyele Cynthia Santos Pimentel||Freitas-Santos, Jucilene||Oliveira Dos Santos, Yngrid Mickaelli||Costa, Maisa de Araújo||Cavalcante, Cibelle de Melo Bastos||Gomes Dos Santos Neto, José||Gitaí, Daniel Leite Góes||Sabino-Silva, Robinson||Torres de Miranda, Cláudio||Borbely, Alexandre Urban||Duzzioni, Marcelo||Shetty, Ashok K||de Castro, Olagide Wagner

publication date

  • January 2021