Author(s): Thelestam M, Curvall M, Enzell CR
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Abstract The ability of compounds derived from tobacco and tobacco smoke to increase the permeability of the membranes of human lung fibroblasts has been studied by measuring the release of an intracellular marker after short term exposure. Of the 464 compounds tested, about 25\% gave rise to severe membrane damage. The most active compounds, when divided according to functionality, were found within the groups of amines, strong acids and alkylated phenols, whereas nitriles and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were found completely inactive. A pronounced effect of the chain length on the activity was observed for the aliphatic alcohols, aldehydes and acids, and all monocyclic aromatic compounds but benzonitriles and benzoic acids showed an increase in activity with increasing alkylsubstitution. It is concluded that tobacco smoke contains a number of membrane damaging substances. These membrane active compounds could not only cause direct toxic reactions but also potentiate the toxic effect by promoting the cell membrane penetration of other toxic substances in tobacco smoke.
This article was published in Toxicology
and referenced in Journal of Molecular Biomarkers & Diagnosis