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Evid Based Dent. 2016 Mar;17(1):2-3. doi: 10.1038/sj.ebd.6401143.

E-cigarette vapour is not inert and exposure can lead to cell damage.

Author information

  • 1Centre for Oral Health Research, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
  • 2Institute of Social Marketing, University of Stirling, Sterling, Scotland.

Abstract

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

In vitro experiments were performed on normal epithelial cells as well as head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cell lines. The widely available cell line HaCat, a spontaneously transformed immortal keratinocyte and the HNSCC cell lines HN30 and UMSCC10B were used. Cells were exposed to nicotine-containing and nicotine-free vapour extract from two popular e-cigarette brands for periods ranging from 48 hours to eight 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 vapour nicotine content. They also exhibited significantly increased comet tail length and accumulation of γ-H2AX foci, demonstrating increased DNA strand breaks.

CONCLUSIONS:

In conclusion, our study strongly suggests that electronic cigarettes are not as safe as their marketing makes them appear to the public. Our in vitro experiments employing two brands of e-cigs show that at biologically relevant doses, vapourised e-cig liquids induce increased DNA strand breaks and cell death, and decreased clono- genic survival in both normal epithelial and HNSCC cell lines independently of nicotine content. Further research is needed to definitively determine the long-term effects of e-cig usage, as well as whether the DNA damage shown in our study as a result of e-cig exposure will lead to mutations that ultimately result in cancer.

PMID:
27012563
DOI:
10.1038/sj.ebd.6401143
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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