Immunotoxic effects of smokeless tobacco on the accessory cell function of rat oral epithelium

Eur J Oral Sci. 1997 Feb;105(1):45-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0722.1997.tb00179.x.


Smokeless tobacco (ST) is known to adversely effect the oral mucosa, but knowledge about the influence on immune defence is limited. Few studies have investigated the effect of ST on the local immune response. In the present study, we have assessed the effect of a crude Swedish moist snuff (SS) extract, alkaloids, and nitrosamines on T-cell mitogenic response to Con A using epithelial cells, including Langerhans cells, of the rat oral mucosa as accessory cells. SS extract at a concentration of 4% reduced the T-cell proliferation by 50% (IC50 = 4%). Pretreatment of either oral epithelial cells or T-cells with SS extract also gave a significant inhibition of T-cell proliferation. This effect was not obtained following preincubation with SS components as alkaloids and different tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA). None of the tested compounds were found to possess any mitogenic properties. This in vitro study showed that SS extract can evoke an immunosuppressive effect on mitogen-driven T-cell proliferation using cells from oral epithelium as accessory cells. This effect was more pronounced when SS extract was employed compared to when the single SS components were used alone.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / adverse effects
  • Anabasine / adverse effects
  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / drug effects
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology*
  • Carcinogens / adverse effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Concanavalin A / pharmacology
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Epithelium / drug effects
  • Epithelium / immunology
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Langerhans Cells / drug effects
  • Langerhans Cells / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Mitogens / pharmacology
  • Mouth Mucosa / cytology
  • Mouth Mucosa / drug effects
  • Mouth Mucosa / immunology*
  • Nicotine / adverse effects
  • Nitrosamines / adverse effects
  • Nitroso Compounds / adverse effects
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects
  • Plant Lectins
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Spleen / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Tobacco, Smokeless / adverse effects*


  • Alkaloids
  • Carcinogens
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Mitogens
  • Nitrosamines
  • Nitroso Compounds
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Lectins
  • Concanavalin A
  • 4-nitrosodimethylaniline
  • N'-nitrosoanabasine
  • Nicotine
  • 4-(N-methyl-N-nitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone
  • Anabasine
  • N'-nitrosonornicotine