Communities in Cape Cod, Massachusetts were exposed to tetrachloroethylene (PCE) through contaminated drinking water from 1969 to 1983. PCE exposure during adulthood has well-established neurotoxic effects; however, long-term impacts stemming from early life exposure, especially adverse effects on sleep quality, are not well understood.
The present analysis was based on data from the Cape Cod Health Study, a retrospective cohort study of the long-term neurotoxic impacts of early-life exposure to PCE-contaminated drinking water. Exposure to PCE-contaminated water was estimated using a validated leaching and transport model. Measures of sleep quality were obtained from self-administered questionnaires. Generalized estimating equations were used to generate risk ratios and 95% confidence intervals to estimate the association between early-life PCE exposure and sleep quality among 604 participants.
Compared to unexposed participants, any PCE exposure during early life was associated with 1.57 times the risk of reporting breathing pauses during sleep (95% CI 0.92–2.68). Low-level exposure to PCE was associated with 1.50 times the risk of reporting sleep apnea or other sleep disorders (95% CI 0.78–2.89), while high levels of exposure had comparable risk compared to no exposure (RR = 0.94, 95% CI 0.50–1.79). Weak or no associations were observed for other sleep quality outcomes. In stratified analyses participants with mental illness and/or substance use disorder had increased risk ratios for short sleep duration associated with PCE exposure.
These findings suggest that early-life exposure to PCE may be associated with a moderate increase in the risk of reporting breathing pauses during sleep in adulthood and that a history of mental illness and/or substance use disorder may exacerbate the risk of short sleep duration.
Children are prescribed second-generation antipsychotic (SGA) medications, such as olanzapine (OLZ) for FDA-approved and “off-label” indications. The long-term impact of early-life SGA medication exposure is unclear. Olanzapine and other SGA medications are known to cause excessive weight gain in young and adult patients, suggesting the possibility of long-term complications associated with the use of these drugs, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Further, the weight gain effects of OLZ have previously been shown to depend on the presence of gut bacteria and treatment with OLZ, which shifts gut bacteria toward an “obesogenic” profile. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate changes in gut bacteria in adult mice following early life treatment with OLZ and being fed either a high-fat diet or a high-fat diet supplemented with fish oil, which has previously been shown to counteract gut dysbiosis, weight gain, and inflammation produced by a high-fat diet. Female and male C57Bl/6J mice were fed a high fat diet without (HF) or with the supplementation of fish oil (HF-FO) and treated with OLZ from postnatal day (PND) 37–65 resulting in four groups of mice: mice fed a HF diet and treated with OLZ (HF-OLZ), mice fed a HF diet and treated with vehicle (HF), mice fed a HF-FO diet and treated with OLZ (HF-FO-OLZ), and mice fed a HF-FO diet and treated with vehicle (HF-FO). Following euthanasia at approximately 164 days of age, we determined changes in gut bacteria populations and serum LPS binding protein, an established marker of gut inflammation and dysbiosis. Our results showed that male HF-FO and HF-FO-OLZ mice had lower body weights, at sacrifice, compared to the HF group, with a comparable body weight across groups in female mice. HF-FO and HF-FO-OLZ male groups also exhibited lower serum LPS binding protein levels compared to the HF group, with no differences across groups in female mice. Gut microbiota profiles were also different among the four groups; the Bacteroidetes-to-Firmicutes (B/F) ratio had the lowest value of 0.51 in the HF group compared to 0.6 in HF-OLZ, 0.9 in HF-FO, and 1.1 in HF-FO-OLZ, with no differences in female mice. In conclusion, FO reduced dietary obesity and its associated inflammation and increased the B/F ratio in male mice but did not benefit the female mice. Although the weight lowering effects of OLZ were unexpected, FO effects persisted in the presence of olanzapine, demonstrating its potential protective effects in male subjects using antipsychotic drugs.
Early-life adversity (ELA) causes long-lasting structural and functional changes to the brain, rendering affected individuals vulnerable to the development of psychopathologies later in life. Immediate-early genes (IEGs) provide a potential marker for the observed alterations, bridging the gap between activity-regulated transcription and long-lasting effects on brain structure and function. Several heterogeneous studies have used IEGs to identify differences in cellular activity after ELA; systematically investigating the literature is therefore crucial for comprehensive conclusions. Here, we performed a systematic review on 39 pre-clinical studies in rodents to study the effects of ELA (alteration of maternal care) on IEG expression. Females and IEGs other than cFos were investigated in only a handful of publications. We meta-analyzed publications investigating specifically cFos expression. ELA increased cFos expression after an acute stressor only if the animals (control and ELA) had experienced additional hits. At rest, ELA increased cFos expression irrespective of other life events, suggesting that ELA creates a phenotype similar to naïve, acutely stressed animals. We present a conceptual theoretical framework to interpret the unexpected results. Overall, ELA likely alters IEG expression across the brain, especially in interaction with other negative life events. The present review highlights current knowledge gaps and provides guidance to aid the design of future studies.