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J Oral Pathol Med. 2001 Sep;30(8):458-64.

Synergistic effects of nicotine on arecoline-induced cytotoxicity in human buccal mucosal fibroblasts.

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Department of Dentistry, Chung Shan Medical and Dental College Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.


Areca quid chewing has been linked to oral submucous fibrosis and oral cancer. Arecoline, a major areca nut alkaloid, is considered to be the most important etiologic factor in the areca nut. In order to elucidate the pathobiological effects of arecoline, cytotoxicity assays, cellular glutathione S-transferase (GST) activity and lipid peroxidation assay were employed to investigate cultured human buccal mucosal fibroblasts. To date, there is a large proportion of areca quid chewers who are also smokers. Furthermore, nicotine, the major product of cigarette smoking, was added to test how it modulated the cytotoxicity of arecoline. At a concentration higher than 50 microg/ml, arecoline was shown to be cytotoxic to human buccal fibroblasts in a dose-dependent manner by the alamar blue dye colorimetric assay (P<0.05). In addition, arecoline significantly decreased GST activity in a dose-dependent manner (P<0.05). At concentrations of 100 microg/ml and 400 microg/ml, arecoline reduced GST activity about 21% and 46%, respectively, during a 24 h incubation period. However, arecoline at any test dose did not increase lipid peroxidation in the present human buccal fibroblast test system. The addition of extracellular nicotine acted synergistically on the arecoline-induced cytotoxicity. Arecoline at a concentration of 50 microg/ml caused about 30% of cell death over the 24 h incubation period. However, 2.5 mM nicotine enhanced the cytotoxic response and caused about 50% of cell death on 50 microg/ml arecoline-induced cytotoxicity. Taken together, arecoline may render human buccal mucosal fibroblasts more vulnerable to other reactive agents in cigarettes via GST reduction. The compounds of tobacco products may act synergistically in the pathogenesis of oral mucosal lesions in areca quid chewers. The data presented here may partly explain why patients who combined the habits of areca quid chewing and cigarette smoking are at greater risk of contracting oral cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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