The effect of cigarette smoke versus vaporized nicotine on healing of a rat femur


      • In a rat femur fracture model, no significant differences were seen in total, mature or immature mineralized bone between groups exposed to combusted tobacco, vaporized nicotine or controls.
      • Non-significant, but important trends were seen toward lower volume of total mineralized bone and immature bone in the vaporized nicotine group compared to controls and combusted tobacco.
      • Biomechanical testing revealed no significant difference in torsional stiffness or maximum torque between the three groups.
      • No significant difference was identified on histologic analysis between the three groups.



      Little data exists regarding the effects of vaporized nicotine on healing. Our goal was to compare vaporized nicotine, combusted nicotine and control with respect to bone healing in a rat femur fracture model.

      Materials and Methods

      Forty-five male Sprague Dawley rats were divided into three equal cohorts. Rats were exposed to two cigarettes daily, an equivalent dose of vaporized nicotine, or control, six days a week. Exposures occurred for 4 weeks prior to iatrogenic femur fracture and intramedullary repair. Four additional weeks of exposure occurred prior to sacrifice. Radiographic, biomechanical and histologic analysis was conducted.


      No significant difference between the three groups was identified for total mineralized bone volume (p = 0.14), total volume of mature bone (p = 0.12) or immature bone (p = 0.15). Importantly, less total mineralized bone volume and immature bone volume was seen in the vaporized nicotine group compared to combusted tobacco, but results were not significant. Biomechanical testing revealed no significant difference in group torsional stiffness (p = 0.92) or maximum torque (p = 0.31) between the three groups. On histologic analysis, chi-square testing showed no significant difference in any category.


      This exploratory study compared combusted nicotine, vaporized nicotine and a control on rat femur fractures. While no statistically significant differences were identified, there were trends showing less total mineralized bone volume and immature bone volume in the vaporized nicotine group compared to the other groups. Additional study is warranted based on our findings.


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