Altered lung biology of healthy never smokers following acute inhalation of E-cigarettes

Respir Res. 2018 May 14;19(1):78. doi: 10.1186/s12931-018-0778-z.


Background: Little is known about health risks associated with electronic cigarette (EC) use although EC are rising in popularity and have been advocated as a means to quit smoking cigarettes.

Methods: Ten never-smokers, without exposure history to tobacco products or EC, were assessed at baseline with questionnaire, chest X-ray, lung function, plasma levels of endothelial microparticles (EMP), and bronchoscopy to obtain small airway epithelium (SAE) and alveolar macrophages (AM). One week later, subjects inhaled 10 puffs of "Blu" brand EC, waited 30 min, then another 10 puff; n = 7 were randomized to EC with nicotine and n = 3 to EC without nicotine to assess biological responses in healthy, naive individuals.

Results: Two hr. post-EC exposure, subjects were again assessed as at baseline. No significant changes in clinical parameters were observed. Biological changes were observed compared to baseline, including altered transcriptomes of SAE and AM for all subjects and elevated plasma EMP levels following inhalation of EC with nicotine.

Conclusions: This study provides in vivo human data demonstrating that acute inhalation of EC aerosols dysregulates normal human lung homeostasis in a limited cohort of healthy naïve individuals. These observations have implications to new EC users, nonsmokers exposed to secondhand EC aerosols and cigarette smokers using EC to quit smoking.

Trial registration: NCT01776398 (registered 10/12/12), NCT02188511 (registered 7/2/14).

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems* / methods
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiratory Function Tests / trends
  • Respiratory Mucosa / drug effects
  • Respiratory Mucosa / physiology
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / trends

Associated data