Incense Smoke Exposure: An Appraisal of Organ Toxicity


  • Adebanji M. Akingbade
  • Samson A. Odukoya
  • Adeoye O. Oyewopo
  • Nalini Govender
  • Thajasvarie Naicker



Heart, incense, liver, lungs, organotoxicity, skin, testes


Background: This narrative type review aimed to address organ toxicity emanating from incense usage.
Methods: An online search using the following MeSH terms “Incense smoke,”, “adverse effects,”
“organotoxicity”, “oxidative stress” and “inflammation” was done to identify studies directly applicable to
adverse effects of incense smoke exposure.
Findings: Exposure to incense smoke demonstrated various toxicity changes in the kidney, testes, lungs,
liver and heart. Renal effects included a decrease in oxidative stress markers GSH and CAT, increase in
MDA, serum creatinine uric acid and blood urea nitrogen (BUN). Testicular toxicityrevealed significant
disturbances in spermatogenetic patterns, testicular atrophy, germinal aplasia, hypospermia and damage to
the basal seminiferous epithelia tissue. In the cardiac muscle, ultrastructural changes, increased oxidative
stress, inflammation, and altered cardiac hypertrophic gene expression was noted. Thenegative impact
of incense smoke emanating from free radical (ROS), lipid peroxidation and GSH destabilizes vascular
homeostasis and initiates ahyperinflammatory response, warranting the need to understand the conceptual
basis of the mode of action linked to incense exposure.
Conclusion: We highlight that incense generates ROS which initiates lipid peroxidation through ATP energy
depletion and reduction in the natural antioxidants. This subsequently triggers oxidative stress, inflammation
and endothelial dysfunction resulting in organotoxicity

Author Biographies

Adebanji M. Akingbade

Lecturer, Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Medicine Ekiti State University
Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria PMB,5363

Samson A. Odukoya

Senior Lecturer, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology,Faculty of Basic Medial
Sciences, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria PMB 13,

Adeoye O. Oyewopo

Associate Professor, Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences,College of Medicine and Health
Sciences, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria.PMB 1515

Nalini Govender

Senior Lecturer, Department of Basic Medical Sciences,
Durban University of Technology, P O Box 1334, Durban, South Africa

Thajasvarie Naicker

Professor, Optics and Imaging Centre,
University of KwaZulu Natal, Doris Duke Medical Research Institute




How to Cite

Adebanji M. Akingbade, Samson A. Odukoya, Adeoye O. Oyewopo, Nalini Govender, & Thajasvarie Naicker. (2021). Incense Smoke Exposure: An Appraisal of Organ Toxicity. Indian Journal of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology, 15(4), 193–201.