Nicotine is a main compound of tobacco plants and may affect more than a billion people all over the world that are permanently exposed to nicotine from cigarettes, various forms of smoking cessation therapies, electronic cigarettes or second-hand smoke. It is known that nicotine forms complexes with melanin what may lead to accumulation of this alkaloid in tissues of living organisms containing the pigment. This may affect the viability of cells and process of melanin biosynthesis that takes place in melanocytes. Although UV radiation is known to be a particular inductor of melanin biosynthesis, its simultaneous effect with nicotine on this process as well as the viability of human cells containing melanin have not been assessed so far.
The aim of this study was to examine the simultaneous impact of nicotine and UV radiation on viability and melanogenesis in cultured normal human melanocytes dark (HEMn-DP) and light (HEMn-LP) pigmented. Nicotine together with UV radiation induced concentration-dependent loss in melanocytes viability. The higher cell loss was observed in dark pigmented melanocytes in comparison to light pigmented cells. Simultaneous exposure of cells to nicotine and UV radiation also caused changes in melanization process in both tested cell lines.
The data suggest that simultaneous exposure of melanocytes to nicotine and UV radiation up-regulates melanogenesis and affects cell viability. Observed processes are more pronounced in dark pigmented cells.