The ability of fibroblasts to reproduce and attach to teeth is of paramount importance in re-establishing the lost connective tissue attachment after periodontal therapy. This study examined the effect of nicotine, a major component of the particulate phase of tobacco smoke, on human gingival fibroblast (HGF) reproduction and attachment to tissue culture surfaces. Pooled HGF cultures made from explants of gingival biopsies were utilized between passages 5 and 10 and plated in 96-well plates at 1.0 x 10(4) cells per well. Cell numbers were determined using 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-y)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT), which is a reflection of mitochondrial dehydrogenase activity. The concentrations of nicotine used were 0.025, 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, and 0.4 microM, the average serum concentration for a smoker being approximately 0.1 microM. The effect of continuous nicotine exposure on HGF reproduction was determined by incubating cell cultures and media containing nicotine for up to 48 hours. Residual toxicity was determined by preincubating cells with nicotine for 1 or 6 hours. HGF suspensions and increasing concentrations of nicotine were added together to determine the effect on attachment. Results showed an enhanced effect of nicotine on HGF attachment, with increasing numbers of cells attaching with increasing nicotine concentrations, compared to the control. Low concentrations of nicotine had a stimulatory effect on cell replication, while higher concentrations of nicotine appear to have no significant effect on HGF reproduction. The responses of cells to some concentrations of nicotine may persist after its removal.
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