Background: Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) are used to help smoking cessation. However, these devices contain harmful chemicals, and there are safety concerns. We have investigated the effects of e-cigs on the inflammatory response and viability of COPD bronchial epithelial cells (BECs).
Methods: BECs from COPD patients and controls were exposed to e-cig vapor extract (ECVE) and the levels of interleukin (IL)-6, C-X-C motif ligand 8 (CXCL8), and lactate dehydrogenase release were measured. We also examined the effect of ECVE pretreatment on polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly I:C)-stimulated cytokine release from BECs. Parallel experiments using Calu-3 cells were performed. Comparisons were made with cigarette smoke extract (CSE).
Results: ECVE and CSE caused an increase in the release of IL-6 and CXCL8 from Calu-3 cells. ECVE only caused toxicity in BECs and Calu-3 cells. Furthermore, ECVE and CSE dampened poly I:C-stimulated C-X-C motif ligand 10 release from both cell culture models, reaching statistical significance for CSE at an optical density of 0.3.
Conclusion: ECVE caused toxicity and reduced the antiviral response to poly I:C. This raises concerns over the safety of e-cig use.
Keywords: COPD; air; cigarette smoke; e-cigs; epithelial cells; liquid interface.