Inhibition of salivary enzymes by cigarette smoke and the protective role of glutathione

Silvia Persichilli, Alvaro Mordente, Bruno Zappacosta, Angelo Minucci, Elisabetta Meucci Calabrese, Bruno Giardina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Tobacco smoke is involved in the pathogenesis of several diseases regarding different body systems, mainly cardiovascular and respiratory in addition to its local toxic effect in the oral cavity. The noxious effects of smoke compounds justify the high incidence of periodontal diseases, caries, and neoplastic diseases of oral tissues in smokers. Some toxic components of tobacco smoke, unsaturated and saturated aldehydes, could interact with thiol rich compounds, leading to structural and functional modification of these molecules. Previous papers have demonstrated an in vitro significant decrease of some enzymatic activities, both in plasma and in saliva, following external addition of aldehydes or exposure to cigarette smoke (CS). Furthermore, the same studies underlined the protective effect exerted by the addition of glutathione (GSH) against the damaging role of smoke aldehydes. In this study some salivary enzymes (lactic dehydrogenase [LDH], aspartate aminotransferase [AST] and amylase), and total GSH were measured in 20 volunteers smokers, before and just after smoking a single cigarette. All enzymatic activities showed a significant inhibition following a single cigarette, probably due to the interaction between smoke aldehydes and -SH groups of the enzyme molecules. Moreover, the percentage of the enzymatic inhibition showed a negative correlation with the basal level of salivary GSH. Our results emphasize that not only one cigarette is sufficient to impair the salivary enzymatic activities but also strengthen the proposed protective role of GSH against the noxious biochemical effects of CS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-11
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2002




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