[Effects of nicotine with special consideration given to tumorigenesis in the head and neck region]

Mund Kiefer Gesichtschir. 2006 Nov;10(6):395-401. doi: 10.1007/s10006-006-0025-5.
[Article in German]


Background: Tumorigenesis is based on initiation, promotion, and progression, whereas tobacco smoke is a decisive predisposing factor for squamous cell carcinomas of the upper aerodigestive tract. A variety of tobacco smoke compounds is known to potentially initiate tumors, but the alkaloid nicotine is generally considered to induce addiction only. However, there is growing evidence that nicotine may also contribute to early stages of tumorigenesis. In the present study, a possible direct genotoxic potential of nicotine is investigated.

Material and methods: Lymphatic tissue of the tonsilla palatina of eight donors was harvested during surgery and incubated with nicotine. DNA damage was measured with the comet assay.

Results: Genotoxic effects of nicotine could be demonstrated.

Discussion: The results suggest a direct contribution of nicotine to tumor initiation and carcinogenesis.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / chemically induced*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Comet Assay
  • DNA Damage
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Mutagenicity Tests*
  • Nicotine / toxicity*
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Palatine Tonsil / drug effects
  • Palatine Tonsil / pathology


  • Nicotine