Electronic cigarette: A recent update of its toxic effects on humans

J Cell Physiol. 2018 Jun;233(6):4466-4478. doi: 10.1002/jcp.26352. Epub 2018 Jan 15.


Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), battery-powered and liquid-vaporizing devices, were invented to replace the conventional cigarette (c-cigarette) smoking for the sake of reducing the adverse effects on multiple organ systems that c-cigarettes have induced. Although some of the identified harmful components in e-cigarettes were alleged to be measured in lower quantity than those in c-cigarettes, researchers unveiled that the toxic effects of e-cigarettes should not be understated. This review is sought for an attempt to throw light on several typical types of e-cigarette components (tobacco-specific nitrosamines, carbonyl compounds, and volatile organic compounds) by revealing their possible impacts on human bodies through different action mechanisms characterized by alteration of specific biomarkers on cellular and molecular levels. In addition, this review is intended to draw the limelight that like c-cigarettes, e-cigarettes could also be accompanied with toxic effects on whole human body, which are especially apparent on respiratory system. From head to foot, from physical aspect to chemical aspect, from genotype to phenotype, potential alterations will take place upon the intake of the liquid aerosol.

Keywords: TSNAs; biomarkers; carbonyl compounds; electronic cigarette; volatile organic compounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Consumer Product Safety
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Nitrosamines / adverse effects*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Vaping / adverse effects*
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / adverse effects*


  • Aerosols
  • Nitrosamines
  • Volatile Organic Compounds