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Oral Oncol. 2016 Jan;52:58-65. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2015.10.018. Epub 2015 Nov 4.

Electronic cigarettes induce DNA strand breaks and cell death independently of nicotine in cell lines.

Author information

1
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, United States.
2
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, United States.
3
Department of Radiation Medicine and Applied Sciences, Moores Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, United States.
4
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, United States; Pulmonary and Critical Care Section, VA San Diego Healthcare System, La Jolla, California, United States.
5
Department of Pathology, VA San Diego Healthcare System, La Jolla, California, United States.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Evaluate the cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of short- and long-term e-cigarette vapor exposure on a panel of normal epithelial and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cell lines.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

HaCaT, UMSCC10B, and HN30 were treated with nicotine-containing and nicotine-free vapor extract from two popular e-cigarette brands for periods ranging from 48 h to 8 weeks. Cytotoxicity was assessed using Annexin V flow cytometric analysis, trypan blue exclusion, and clonogenic assays. Genotoxicity in the form of DNA strand breaks was quantified using the neutral comet assay and γ-H2AX immunostaining.

RESULTS:

E-cigarette-exposed cells showed significantly reduced cell viability and clonogenic survival, along with increased rates of apoptosis and necrosis, regardless of e-cigarette vapor nicotine content. They also exhibited significantly increased comet tail length and accumulation of γ-H2AX foci, demonstrating increased DNA strand breaks.

CONCLUSION:

E-cigarette vapor, both with and without nicotine, is cytotoxic to epithelial cell lines and is a DNA strand break-inducing agent. Further assessment of the potential carcinogenic effects of e-cigarette vapor is urgently needed.

KEYWORDS:

DNA damage; Electronic cigarettes; Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC); Nicotine; Oral cancer; Smoking; Strand breaks

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