Electronic cigarette liquids impair metabolic cooperation and alter proteomic profiles in V79 cells

Respir Res. 2022 Jul 15;23(1):191. doi: 10.1186/s12931-022-02102-w.


Background: Although still considered a safer alternative to classical cigarettes, growing body of work points to harmful effects of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) affecting a range of cellular processes. The biological effect of e-cigarettes needs to be investigated in more detail considering their widespread use.

Methods: In this study, we treated V79 lung fibroblasts with sub-cytotoxic concentration of e-cigarette liquids, with and without nicotine. Mutagenicity was evaluated by HPRT assay, genotoxicity by comet assay and the effect on cellular communication by metabolic cooperation assay. Additionally, comprehensive proteome analysis was performed via high resolution, parallel accumulation serial fragmentation-PASEF mass spectrometry.

Results: E-cigarette liquid concentration used in this study showed no mutagenic or genotoxic effect, however it negatively impacted metabolic cooperation between V79 cells. Both e-cigarette liquids induced significant depletion in total number of proteins and impairment of mitochondrial function in treated cells. The focal adhesion proteins were upregulated, which is in accordance with the results of metabolic cooperation assay. Increased presence of posttranslational modifications (PTMs), including carbonylation and direct oxidative modifications, was observed. Data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD032071.

Conclusions: Our study revealed impairment of metabolic cooperation as well as significant proteome and PTMs alterations in V79 cells treated with e-cigarette liquid warranting future studies on e-cigarettes health impact.

Keywords: Electronic cigarettes; Lung fibroblast; Metabolic cooperation; Proteomics.

MeSH terms

  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Nicotine / pharmacology
  • Proteome
  • Proteomics
  • Tobacco Products*


  • Proteome
  • Nicotine