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J Periodontol. 2001 Jun;72(6):709-13.

Human gingival fibroblast cytoskeleton is a target for volatile smoke components.

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Department of Experimental Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Pavia, Italy.



Several in vitro investigations have indicated that the particulate phase of cigarette smoke as nicotine affects many cell types including gingival fibroblasts, but few studies have examined the effect of volatile fraction on cellular structures involved in cell functions such as adhesion and proliferation. Since gingival fibroblast survival and reproduction are fundamental to maintaining the oral connective tissue as well as to wound healing, the effects of acrolein and acetaldehyde, volatile fractions of cigarette smoke, on cytoskeleton were examined in human gingival fibroblasts (HGFs) in vitro.


Human gingival fibroblast (HGF) strains from healthy subjects with non-inflamed gingiva were utilized. The cells were incubated in different concentrations of acrolein and acetaldehyde. Cell adhesion was evaluated after 3 hours. The influence of both substances on cytoskeletal structures, tubulin and vimentin intermediate filaments (VIF), was investigated using indirect immunofluorescence technique.


The results show that both substances produced similar effects, resulting in a dose-dependent inhibition of HGF adhesion. Disturbance of HGF cytoskeleton consisted of a disruption of microtubules and vimentin microfilaments with alterations in cell shape.


Our experimental findings suggest that volatile fractions of cigarette smoke such as acrolein and acetaldehyde, because their ability to bind and interact with the cytoskeleton, prevent HGF adhesion. Consequently the maintenance of the oral connective tissue and integrity and remodeling could be impaired. According to our morphological evidence, these findings confirm other clinical and epidemiological investigations reporting that volatile components of cigarette smoke could lead to the initiation and progression of periodontal disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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