Effects of tobacco smoke on PC12 cell neurodifferentiation are distinct from those of nicotine or benzo[a]pyrene.
Although nicotine accounts for a great deal of the neurodevelopmental damage associated with maternal smoking or second-hand exposure, tobacco smoke contains thousands of potentially neurotoxic compounds. We used PC12 cells, a standard in vitro model of neurodifferentiation, to compare tobacco smoke extract (TSE) to nicotine, matching TSE exposure (with its inherent nicotine content) to parallel concentrations of nicotine, or to benzo[a]pyrene, a tobacco combustion product. TSE promoted the transition from cell replication to differentiation, resulting in fewer, but larger cells with greater neurite extension. TSE also biased differentiation into the dopaminergic versus the cholinergic phenotype, evidenced by an increase in tyrosine hydroxylase activity but not choline acetyltransferase. Nicotine likewise promoted differentiation at the expense of cell numbers, but its effect on growth and neurite extension was smaller than that of TSE; furthermore, nicotine did not promote the dopaminergic phenotype. Benzo[a]pyrene had effects opposite to those of TSE, retarding neurodifferentiation, which resulted in higher cell numbers, smaller cells, reduced neurite information, and impaired emergence of both dopaminergic and cholinergic phenotypes. Our studies show that the complex mixture of compounds in tobacco smoke exerts direct effects on neural cell replication and differentiation that resemble those of nicotine in some ways but not others, and most importantly, that are greater in magnitude than can be accounted for from just the nicotine content of TSE. Thus, fetal tobacco smoke exposure, including lower levels associated with second-hand smoke, could be more injurious than would be anticipated from measured levels of nicotine or its metabolites.
Slotkin, TA; Card, J; Stadler, A; Levin, ED; Seidler, FJ
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