Nuclear and mitochondrial DNA alterations in newborns with prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke

Francesca Pirini, Elisa Guida, Fahcina Lawson, Andrea Mancinelli, Rafael Guerrero-Preston

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Newborns exposed to maternal cigarette smoke (CS) in utero have an increased risk of developing chronic diseases, cancer, and acquiring decreased cognitive function in adulthood. Although the literature reports many deleterious effects associated with maternal cigarette smoking on the fetus, the molecular alterations and mechanisms of action are not yet clear. Smoking may act directly on nuclear DNA by inducing mutations or epigenetic modifications. Recent studies also indicate that smoking may act on mitochondrial DNA by inducing a change in the number of copies to make up for the damage caused by smoking on the respiratory chain and lack of energy. In addition, individual genetic susceptibility plays a significant role in determining the effects of smoking during development. Furthermore, prior exposure of paternal and maternal gametes to cigarette smoke may affect the health of the developing individual, not only the in utero exposure. This review examines the genetic and epigenetic alterations in nuclear and mitochondrial DNA associated with smoke exposure during the most sensitive periods of development (prior to conception, prenatal and early postnatal) and assesses how such changes may have consequences for both fetal growth and development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1135-1155
Number of pages21
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 23 2015


  • DNA methylation
  • Environmental cigarette smoke effects
  • Epigenomics effects
  • In utero exposures
  • Maternal cigarette smoke effects
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Molecular biomarkers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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