Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of adults between 18 and 55 years old. Inclusion criteria were: exclusive e-cigarette use or cigarette smoking for ≥ 1 year or no history of tobacco use. Participants with a history of pulmonary illness, atopy, medications (except birth control pills), marijuana, and illegal substance use were excluded. Custom Multiplex ELISA was used to measure YKL-40 and other biomarker levels in the serum and induced sputum of the participants. Multivariable linear regression was used to compare the levels of YLK-40 in healthy participants, e-cigarette, and cigarette users after adjusting for age, sex, and BMI.
Results: We recruited 20 healthy controls, 23 cigarette smokers, and 22 exclusive e-cigarette users. Serum YKL-40 (ng/ml) was significantly higher in e-cigarette users (Median 21.2 [IQR 12.1-24.0] ng/ml) when compared to controls (12.2 [IQR 8.7-18.1] ng/ml, p = 0.016) but comparable to cigarette smokers (21.6 [IQR 11.62-51.7] ng/ml, p = 0.31). No significant differences were found in the serum or sputum of the other biomarkers tested.
Conclusion: The inflammatory biomarker, YKL-40 is elevated in the serum but not the sputum of e-cigarette users with no reported pulmonary disease. Further research is necessary to characterize this association.
Keywords: E-cigarette; YKl-40; serum; sputum.