In vitro testing of the responses of human gingival fibroblasts and L- 929 cells to nicotine

Gabriela Ciapetti, Giulia Remiddi, Franca Savioli, Giuseppe Monaco, Giacomo Ori, Luigi Checchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tobacco smoke is considered to be a major risk factor in the development of cardiac diseases and lung cancer. It has also been shown that periodontitis is more prevalent and more severe in smokers than in non- smokers. Nicotine, the major pyridine alkaloid in tobacco, has been shown to participate in periodontal disease, exerting both local and systemic effects. In the present study, the effects of nicotine (6μg/ml, 60μg/ml and 600μg/ml) on human gingival fibroblasts (HGF) were assessed by using various exposure protocols. The responses of HGF cultures obtained from smokers and non-smokers were compared to those found when using a continuous cell line (L-929). Neutral red uptake (NRU) and the measurement of DNA content with bis-benzimide dye were used to assess cell viability and cell number, respectively. NRU was the most sensitive technique for the detection of cytotoxic effects. L-929 cells were found to be affected by nicotine in the NRU assay, with a strong cytotoxic effect with 690μg/ml nicotine, and a 'response' with 60μg/ml nicotine when prolonged or double challenge was applied. Nonsmoker HGF and smoker HGF reacted to nicotine in different ways, depending on the concentrations and the exposure times used, but had identical reactions following double exposure. With the Hoechst DNA assay, 600μg/ml nicotine was found to affect the growth of non-smoker HGF after long or repeated exposure, while smoker HGF were affected only by repeated exposure; growth of L-929 cells was not affected. It was concluded that HGF from smokers are able to sustain higher concentrations of nicotine without adverse effects than are non-smoker HGF and L-929 cells. If this occurs in vivo, nicotine would not be considered to be a major toxicant to HGF in smokers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-459
Number of pages11
JournalATLA Alternatives to Laboratory Animals
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1999


  • HGF
  • Hoechst DNA assay
  • Human gingival fibroblasts
  • Nicotine
  • NRU assay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • veterinary(all)


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