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Tob Induc Dis. 2012 Aug 16;10(1):13.

Microbiological components in mainstream and sidestream cigarette smoke.

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  • 1Dept of Laboratory Medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.



Research has shown that tobacco smoke contains substances of microbiological origin such as ergosterol (a fungal membrane lipid) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (in the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria). The aim of the present study was to compare the amounts of ergosterol and LPS in the tobacco and mainstream (MS) and sidestream (SS) smoke of some popular US cigarettes.


We measured LPS 3-hydroxy fatty acids and fungal biomass biomarker ergosterol in the tobacco and smoke from cigarettes of 11 popular brands purchased in the US. University of Kentucky reference cigarettes were also included for comparison.


The cigarette tobacco of the different brands contained 6.88-16.17 (mean 10.64) pmol LPS and 8.27-21.00 (mean 14.05) ng ergosterol/mg. There was a direct correlation between the amounts of ergosterol and LPS in cigarette tobacco and in MS smoke collected using continuous suction; the MS smoke contained 3.65-8.23% (ergosterol) and 10.02-20.13% (LPS) of the amounts in the tobacco. Corresponding percentages were 0.30-0.82% (ergosterol) and 0.42-1.10% (LPS) for SS smoke collected without any ongoing suction, and 2.18% and 2.56% for MS smoke collected from eight two-second puffs.


Tobacco smoke is a bioaerosol likely to contain a wide range of potentially harmful bacterial and fungal components.

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