Clinical Oral Investigations

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 477–483 | Cite as

Cytotoxicity and apoptosis induction by e-cigarette fluids in human gingival fibroblasts

  • Silvia Sancilio
  • Marialucia GalloriniEmail author
  • Amelia Cataldi
  • Viviana di Giacomo
Original Article



Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are generally acknowledged as a safer alternative to the use of combusted tobacco products. Nevertheless, there are increasing conflicting claims concerning the effect of these novel industrial products on the health of e-cigarettes users. The aim of this work was to investigate the effects of the liquids of e-cigarettes on human gingival fibroblasts (HGFs) and to compare the effects of nicotine-containing fluid to the fluid itself.

Materials and methods

HGFs were treated with different concentrations (0–5 mg/mL) of fluids of e-cigarettes for different times (0–72 h) and cytotoxicity was analyzed by MTT assay. Fluids were administered also after being vaped (e.g., warmed into the cartomizer). Apoptosis occurrence and Bax expression were evaluated by flow cytometry; ROS production was analyzed by fluorescence optical microscopy.


Both nicotine-containing and nicotine-free fluids induced an increased ROS production after 24 h, along with an increased Bax expression, followed by apoptosis occurrence after 48 h of exposure.


The cytotoxicity exerted on HGFs by e-cigarettes fluids is not entirely ascribable to nicotine. Since the e-cigarettes are advertised as a safer alternative to traditional ones, especially for the possibility of “smoking” nicotine-free fluids, further studies are necessary to clarify the mechanism involved in the occurrence of cytotoxicity exerted by such compounds.

Clinical relevance

Our results suggest a role for e-cigarette fluids in the pathogenesis of oral diseases, such as periodontitis.


e-cigarette Reactive oxygen species Bax Apoptosis Human gingival fibroblast Cytotoxicity 



This study was founded by: a FIRB project, −“Accordi di Programma 2010”, directed by Prof. Cataldi (Cod.RBAPI095), on ‘Processi degenerativi dei tessuti mineralizzati del cavo orale, impieghi di biomateriali e controllo delle interazioni con microrganismi dell’ambiente’, an “ex 60 %” MIUR grant 2013 held by Prof. Cataldi and an “ex 60 %” MIUR grant 2014 held by Dr. Viviana di Giacomo.

Conflict of interest

The author’s declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvia Sancilio
    • 1
  • Marialucia Gallorini
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Amelia Cataldi
    • 1
  • Viviana di Giacomo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacyG. d’Annunzio University, Chieti-PescaraChieti Scalo (CH)Italy
  2. 2.Department of Operative Dentistry and PeriodontologyUniversity Hospital Regensburg, University of RegensburgRegensburgGermany

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