E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury Produced in an Animal Model From Electronic Cigarette Vapor Exposure Without Tetrahydrocannabinol or Vitamin E Oil

J Am Heart Assoc. 2020 Sep 15;9(18):e017368. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.120.017368. Epub 2020 Sep 8.


E-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury was recognized in the United States in the summer of 2019 and is typified by acute respiratory distress, shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, and fever, associated with vaping. It can mimic many of the manifestations of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Some investigators have suggested that E-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury was due to tetrahydrocannabinol or vitamin E acetate oil mixed with the electronic cigarette liquid. In experimental rodent studies initially designed to study the effect of electronic cigarette use on the cardiovascular system, we observed an E-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury-like condition that occurred acutely after use of a nichrome heating element at high power, without the use of tetrahydrocannabinol, vitamin E, or nicotine. Lung lesions included thickening of the alveolar wall with foci of inflammation, red blood cell congestion, obliteration of alveolar spaces, and pneumonitis in some cases; bronchi showed accumulation of fibrin, inflammatory cells, and mucus plugs. Electronic cigarette users should be cautioned about the potential danger of operating electronic cigarette units at high settings; the possibility that certain heating elements may be deleterious; and that E-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury may not be dependent upon tetrahydrocannabinol, vitamin E, or nicotine.

Keywords: E‐cigarette; lung; lung injury; pneumonitis; respiratory distress; vaping.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dronabinol / toxicity*
  • E-Cigarette Vapor / toxicity*
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Inhalation Exposure
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Injury / chemically induced*
  • Lung Injury / pathology
  • Models, Animal
  • Oils
  • Pneumonia / chemically induced*
  • Pneumonia / pathology
  • Rats
  • Risk Assessment
  • Vaping / adverse effects*
  • Vitamin E / toxicity*


  • E-Cigarette Vapor
  • Oils
  • Vitamin E
  • Dronabinol