Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biomedical Engineering (Engineering)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Herman S. Cheung

Second Committee Member

Chun-Yuh C. Huang

Third Committee Member

Guy A. Howard


This research focuses on the effects nicotine exposure has on Human, Bone Marrow Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cell (MSC) proliferation, migration and differentiation potential. Nicotine, the quintessential compound responsible for a smoker’s addiction to cigarettes, is an organic compound, whose effects are either positive or negative depending on the dose of nicotine metabolized. In low concentrations, nicotine has been shown to induce angiogenesis and improve diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. In high doses, however, nicotine has been shown to have detrimental effects including hindering both embryonic stem cell development and skeletal healing. Although much has been discovered about the effects of nicotine at the cellular level, information on its effect on MSC function are not fully understood. In order to evaluate such effects, four independent studies were conducted to evaluate the proliferation, migration and differentiation potential of MSC exposed to nicotine levels similar to those seen in the saliva of chronic smokers. Results from all studies clearly showed nicotine had an adverse effect on inherent MSC characteristics. MSCs exposed to nicotine containing media experienced a significant reduction in proliferation rate, overall distance traveled, average cell speed and gene expression of various osteogenic and migratory markers. Although the presence of nicotine alone has shown to adversely effect the proliferation, migration and osteogenic potential of MSC, additional studies must be conducted to see how these results will change in the presence of the remaining cigarette smoke compounds.


Mesenchymal Stem Cells; Nicotine; Smoking; Differentiation Potential; Adult Stem Cells; Bone Marrow