Limited mutagenicity of electronic cigarettes in mouse or human cells in vitro

Lung Cancer. 2017 Oct;112:41-46. doi: 10.1016/j.lungcan.2017.07.035. Epub 2017 Aug 3.


Objectives: Electronic cigarettes (e-cig), which are promoted as safe alternatives to tobacco cigarettes or as aides to smoking cessation, are becoming increasingly popular among adult chronic smokers and adolescents experimenting with tobacco products. Despite the known presence of toxicants and carcinogens in e-cig liquid and vapor, the possible carcinogenic effects of e-cig use in humans are unknown.

Materials and methods: We have utilized two validated in vitro model systems to investigate whether e-cig vapor induces mutation in mouse or human cells. We have exposed transgenic mouse fibroblasts in vitro to e-cig vapor extracts prepared from three popular brands, and determined the induction of mutagenesis in a reporter gene, the cII transgene. Furthermore, we have treated the pSP189 plasmid with e-cig vapor extract, transfected human fibroblast cells with the e-cig-treated plasmid, and screened for the induced mutations in the supF gene.

Results and conclusion: We observed no statistically significant increases in relative mutant frequency in the cII transgene or supF gene in the e-cig treated mouse or human cells, respectively. Our data indicate that e-cig vapor extracts from the selected brands and at concentrations tested in this study have limited mutagenicity in both mouse and human cells in vitro.

Keywords: Mouse embryonic fibroblasts; Mutation; Vaping; cII transgene; supF assay.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Fibroblasts
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mutagenesis*
  • Mutagens
  • Mutation Rate
  • Smoking* / adverse effects


  • Mutagens