Cocaine exposure during the brain growth spurt failed to produce cerebellar Purkinje cell loss in rat pups. Academic Article uri icon


  • Previous studies in our laboratory indicated that cocaine exposure during the brain growth spurt period, a developmental stage vulnerable to various teratogens, did not produce microencephaly (gross brain weight measures). However, neonatal cocaine exposure has been shown to affect motor coordination and balance, which are both sensitive to cerebellar damage. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether cocaine exposure during the brain growth spurt period could result in the loss of cerebellar Purkinje cells, a neuronal population known to be vulnerable to other teratogenic insults. Sprague-Dawley rat pups were randomly assigned to either cocaine-treated groups (40, 80 mg/kg s.c.) or a gastrostomy control group, and were reared using an artificial-rearing method from postnatal days (PDs) 4 through 9. On PD 10, these animals were perfused and the cerebella were extracted and processed for cell counts. Estimates of Purkinje cell numbers were obtained using a 3-dimensional optical dissector method. The results using this stereological method demonstrated no significant Purkinje cell loss in response to cocaine treatment, even at a dose which has been shown to result in high mortality. The failure of cocaine to produce significant Purkinje cell loss (present finding) or microencephaly (previous finding) odds to the evidence indicating that cocaine is not a potent neuroteratogen.

published proceedings

  • Teratology

author list (cited authors)

  • Chen, W. J., McAlhany, R. E., Maier, S. E., & West, J. R

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Chen, WJ||McAlhany, RE||Maier, SE||West, JR

publication date

  • March 1996