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Cell Biol Toxicol. 1995 Apr;11(2):79-88.

An in vitro study on the cytotoxicity of chlorhexidine digluconate to human gingival cells.

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Department of Biology, Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University, New York, USA.


Chlorhexidine digluconate is the active ingredient in mouthrinses used to prevent dental plaque and gingivitis. The in vitro cytotoxicity of chlorhexidine was evaluated with the Smulow-Glickman (S-G) gingival epithelial cell line. The potency of chlorhexidine was dependent on the length of exposure and composition of the exposure medium. The midpoint cytotoxicity values for 1-, 24-, and 72-h exposures were 0.106, 0.011, and 0.0045 mmol/L, respectively. S-G cells exposed for 2 h to chlorhexidine and then maintained for 48 h in chlorhexidine-free medium were unable to recover from the initial insult. The adverse effects of chlorhexidine on the plasma membrane were suggested by the leakage of lactic acid dehydrogenase from chlorhexidine-treated S-G cells and by the increased permeability of chlorhexidine-treated liposomes to Ca2+. The toxicity of a 24-h exposure to chlorhexidine to the S-G cells was progressively lessened as the content of fetal bovine serum (FBS) in the exposure medium was increased from 2% to 8%. The potency of a 1-h exposure to chlorhexidine was reduced in medium amended with albumin, lecithin, and heat-killed Escherichia coli. These reductions in toxicity were presumably due to the binding of the cationic chlorhexidine to the negatively charged chemical moieties of the components of FBS and of albumin and lecithin and of sites on the surfaces of bacteria. Combinations of chlorhexidine and carbamide peroxide were additive in their cytotoxicities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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