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Cell Health Cytoskelet. 2012 Mar 28;4:29-35.

The effect of nicotine on the mechanical properties of mesenchymal stem cells.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Miami College of Engineering, Coral Gables, FL, USA ; Research Service and Geriatrics Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Miami, FL, USA.



To measure the elasticity of the nucleus and cytoplasm of human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as well as changes brought about by exposure to nicotine in vitro.


MSCs were synchronized to the G(0) stage of the cell cycle through serum deprivation techniques. The cells were then treated with medium containing nicotine (0.1 µM, 0.5 µM, and 1 µM). Atomic force microscopy was then used to measure the Young's modulus of both the nucleus and cytoplasm of these cells.


For both unsynchronized and synchronized cells, the nucleus was softer than the cytoplasm, although this difference was not found to be statistically significant. The nucleus of cells treated with nicotine was significantly stiffer than the control for all concentrations. The cytoplasm was significantly stiffer in nicotine-treated cells than in control cells for the 0.5 µM and 1.0 µM concentrations only.


The results of this study could suggest that nicotine affects the biophysical properties of human MSCs in a dose-dependent manner, which may render the cells less responsive to mechanoinduction and other physical stimuli.

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