Vulimiri, S V, et al., Effects of Mainstream Cigarette Smoke on the Global Metabolome of Human Lung Epithelial Cells. Chem Res Toxicol, 2009. 22(3): 492-503.
Metabolomics is a technology for identifying and quantifying numerous biochemicals across metabolic pathways. Using this approach, we explored changes in biochemical profiles of human alveolar epithelial carcinoma (A549) cells following in vitro exposure to mainstream whole smoke (WS) aerosol as well as to wet total particulate matter (WTPM) or gas/vapor phase (GVP), the two constituent phases of WS from 2R4F Kentucky reference cigarettes. A549 cells were exposed to WTPM or GVP (expressed as WTPM mass equivalent GVP volumes) at 0, 5, 25, or 50 microg/mL or to WS from zero, two, four, and six cigarettes for 1 or 24 h. Cell pellets were analyzed for perturbations in biochemical profiles, with named biochemicals measured, analyzed, and reported in a heat map format, along with biochemical and physiological interpretations (mSelect, Metabolon Inc.). Both WTPM and GVP exposures likely decreased glycolysis (based on decreased glycolytic intermediaries) and increased oxidative stress and cell damage. Alterations in the Krebs cycle and the urea cycle were unique to WTPM exposure, while induction of hexosamines and alterations in lipid metabolism were unique to GVP exposure. WS altered glutathione (GSH) levels, enhanced polyamine and pantothenate levels, likely increased beta-oxidation of fatty acids, and increased phospholipid degradation marked by an increase in phosphoethanolamine. GSH, glutamine, and pantothenate showed the most significant changes with cigarette smoke exposure in A549 cells based on principal component analysis. Many of the changed biochemicals were previously reported to be altered by cigarette exposure, but the global metabolomic approach offers the advantage of observing changes to hundreds of biochemicals in a single experiment and the possibility for new discoveries. The metabolomic approach may thus be used as a screening tool to evaluate conventional and novel tobacco products offering the potential to reduce risks of smoking.