Chronic use of e-cigarette vapor with nicotine may cause inflammation and organ damage - VA San Diego Healthcare System
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VA San Diego Healthcare System


Chronic use of e-cigarette vapor with nicotine may cause inflammation and organ damage

February 6, 2018

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Published in the February American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Interactive and Comparative Physiology, VA San Diego Healthcare System and University of California San Diego researcher and senior author Laura Crotty Alexander M.D. added to the growing body of knowledge suggesting that e-cigarette vapor (EV) may not be as safe as originally thought.  Dr. Crotty Alexander says her study supports further investigation of the safety of EV.  “Our findings of significant pathology caused by inhalation of non-flavored EV gives credence to the belief that there are toxic effects of EV components, beyond those of flavorings alone,” Crotty Alexander wrote.

The two parts of the study included tests on mice with EV exposure daily for three to six months and tests on primary human bronchial epithelial cells that were exposed to EV for 15 minutes daily for three to five days prior to functional testing.  Daily inhalation of EV increased circulating pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic protein in the mice. Pro-inflammatory responses were seen in human lung cells in Petri dishes that were exposed daily to the vapor.   Chronic EV inhalation reduced renal filtration and altered cardiovascular function, with decreased heart rate and elevated blood pressure in mice.

These data demonstrate that chronic inhalation of EV may lead to increased inflammation, organ damage, and cardiorenal and hepatic disease, say the authors.

“Our findings of multi-organ dysfunction and fibrosis induced by regular inhalation of EV produced by vape pens illustrate the need to expand clinical, epidemiological, and basic science research studies to include possible effects on organ systems outside of the pulmonary system,” says Crotty Alexander.

Contributing authors are: Laura Crotty Alexander, Christopher Drummond, Mark Hepokoski, Denzil Mathew, Alexander Moshensky, Andrew Willeford, Soumita Das, Prabhleen Singh, Zachary Yong, Jasmine Lee, Kevin Vega, Ashley Du, John Shin, Christian Javier, Jiang Tian, Joan Heller Brown, and Ellen Breen

The work was funded by VA, the American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health, the American Thoracic Society, and a UAB-UCSD O’Brien Center Daniel O’Connor Scholar Award.