Tobacco smoke, particularly its non-volatile fraction e.g. nicotine, is considered to be a major risk factor for the development and progression of periodontal disease. The purpose of this study has been to determine the effects of acrolein and acetaldehyde of the volatile fraction of tobacco smoking, on human gingival fibroblasts (HGFs) cultured in vitro with particular attention to cytoskeletal structures. A human gingival fibroblast strain derived from healthy gingiva was utilized in this study. The cells were exposed to acrolein and acetaldehyde at various concentrations. Control and treated cells were compared as regards their adhesion on cell culture dishes. Their cytoskeletal structures [tubulin and vimentin intermediate filaments (VIFs)] were examined by fluorescence microscopy. The results revealed that both substances produced similar effects resulting in a dose dependent decrease in cell adhesion and alterations of HGF cytoskeleton consisting of rearrangement and/or disruption of microtubules and vimentin associated filaments. Changes in cell shape and decrease in cell size were also seen. On the basis of this in vitro study, it appears that tobacco, through its volatile components, may directly affect the main functions of HGFs.
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