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Inhal Toxicol. 2011 Nov;23(13):829-34. doi: 10.3109/08958378.2011.617398.

The genotoxic effect of nicotine on chromosomes of human fetal cells: the first report described as an important study.

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Department of Medical Biology and Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, Çukurova University, 01330 Balcalı, Adana, Turkey.



Recent studies have suggested a direct contribution of nicotine--the addictive component of tobacco and tobacco smoke--to human carcinogenesis, and it remains the most common harmful substance to which pregnant women are exposed. Also, it has deleterious effects on the fetus. The sperm of smoking fathers and newborns of smoking mothers have elevated frequencies of chromosome translocations and DNA strand breaks.


We tried to understand the genotoxic effect of nicotine in pregnancies of active or passive smoking mothers. For this reason, we provide the evidence that nicotine exposure in vitro has detrimental effects on fetal cells.


We examined the effect of nicotine sulphate on amniotic cells by designing an experimental setting consisting fetal cells grown in nicotine containing medium (25 ng/mL) in study group and fetal cells grown in control medium, which did not contain nicotine.


According to our findings, there is a significant difference of chromosomal aberrations (CAs) between nicotine containing medium grown cells and control medium grown cells, determined by the χ² test (P <0.001). We found CAs in 21.5% of cells analyzed. The 19.4% of the all cells had numerical aberrations. Chromosomes 21, 22, 8, 15 and 20 related numerical abnormalities were found to be the most frequent numerical abnormalities.


Results of this study confirm that the nicotine leads to significant direct genotoxic effects in human fetal cells in vitro. We speculate that there is an association between prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke and in utero aneuploidies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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