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Antioxidant Free Radical Scavengers in Cigarette Filters

T. Hersh, MD1; L. Fan, MD2; D. Owen, MD, PhD2
1Thione International, Inc.; 2Biosyn, Inc.
Presented at the World Conference on Tobacco OR Health, Aug. 2000


Reactive free radical (FR) species derived from the burning of tobacco contribute to tobacco-related diseases including heart disease and cancer. Gas phase smoke contains 1015 FR per puff; in tar, these FR are claimed to be "trapped" in the cigarette filter. Antioxidants scavenge oxygen and other FR to prevent or retard oxidation. Can antioxidants be placed in a cigarette filter to reduce the cytotoxic effects of inhaled cigarette smoke?

Method: A smoking device was used to allow smoke from a single cigarette to be bubbled through cell culture media, which is then placed on confluent cell lines; the survival of the fibroblasts was monitored for 48 hours via Alamar Blue, determining cell viability as ability of "living" mitochondria to oxidize the dye. The tests were repeated placing a glutathione antioxidant complex in the cell culture media and coated within a filter prior to introduction of the smoke.

Results: With control smoke, cell viability averaged 60% in WI-38 fetal fibroblasts, 52% in 26 yr old and 10% in 83 yr old dermal fibroblasts compared to 84%, 80% and 78%, respectively with antioxidant treated smoke.

Tobacco gas phase smoke results in significant cell death, greatly accentuated in older cell lines. Antioxidants reduce gas phase FR and significantly reduce acute cell mortality in both young and senescent cells.

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