Tobacco extract but not nicotine impairs the mechanical strength of fracture healing in rats

Martin Skott*, Troels T. Andreassen, Michael Ulrich-Vinther, X. Chen, Dan E. Keyler, Mark G. LeSage, Paul R. Pentel, Joan E. Bechtold, Kjeld Soballe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


The influence of nicotine and tobacco extract (without nicotine) alone and in combination on and mechanical strength of closed femoral fractures in rats was investigated. One hundred four male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into four groups receiving: nicotine, tobacco extract, tobacco extract plus nicotine, and saline. One week prior to fracture, osmotic pumps were implanted subcutaneously in all animals to administer nicotine equivalent to the serum level of nicotine observed in a smoker consuming one to two packs of cigarettes daily. An equivalent volume of saline was administered to the control animals. Tobacco extract was administered orally. A closed transverse femoral diaphysial fracture was performed, and stabilized with an intramedullary pin. The fractures were mechanically tested after 21 days of healing. Tobacco extract alone decreased the mechanical strength. Ultimate torque and torque at yield point of the tobacco extract group were decreased by 21% (p = 0.010) and 23% (p = 0.056), respectively, compared with the vehicle (saline) group, and by 20% (p = 0.023) and 26% (p = 0.004), respectively, compared with the nicotine group. No difference was found between the tobacco extract and tobacco extract plus nicotine groups. An 18% (p = 0.013) reduction in torque at yield point was observed in the tobacco extract plus nicotine group compared with the nicotine group. No differences in ultimate stiffness, energy absorption, and callus bone mineral content at the fracture line were found between any of the groups. Serum levels of nicotine were between 40-50 ng/mL in the group given nicotine alone and the group given tobacco extract plus nicotine (equivalent to serum levels observed in persons smoking one to two packs of cigarettes per day).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1472-1479
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Fracture healing
  • Mechanical strength
  • Rats
  • Tobacco extract


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