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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