E-cigarette aerosol impairs male mouse skeletal muscle force development and prevents recovery from injury

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2022 Dec 1;323(6):R849-R860. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00314.2021. Epub 2022 Oct 17.


To date, there has been a lag between the rise in E-cigarette use and an understanding of the long-term health effects. Inhalation of E-cigarette aerosol delivers high doses of nicotine, raises systemic cytokine levels, and compromises cardiopulmonary function. The consequences for muscle function have not been thoroughly investigated. The present study tests the hypothesis that exposure to nicotine-containing aerosol impairs locomotor muscle function, limits exercise tolerance, and interferes with muscle repair in male mice. Nicotine-containing aerosol reduced the maximal force produced by the extensor digitorum longus (EDL) by 30%-40% and, the speed achieved in treadmill running by 8%. Nicotine aerosol exposure also decreased adrenal and increased plasma epinephrine and norepinephrine levels, and these changes in catecholamines manifested as increased muscle and liver glycogen stores. In nicotine aerosol exposed mice, muscle regenerating from overuse injury only recovered force to 80% of noninjured levels. However, the structure of neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) was not affected by e-cigarette aerosols. Interestingly, the vehicle used to dissolve nicotine in these vaping devices, polyethylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG), decreased running speed by 11% and prevented full recovery from a lengthening contraction protocol (LCP) injury. In both types of aerosol exposures, cardiac left ventricular systolic function was preserved, but left ventricular myocardial relaxation was altered. These data suggest that E-cigarette use may have a negative impact on muscle force and regeneration due to compromised glucose metabolism and contractile function in male mice.NEW & NOTEWORTHY In male mice, nicotine-containing E-cigarette aerosol compromises muscle contractile function, regeneration from injury, and whole body running speeds. The vehicle used to deliver nicotine, propylene glycol, and vegetable glycerin, also reduces running speed and impairs the restoration of muscle function in injured muscle. However, the predominant effects of nicotine in this inhaled aerosol are evident in altered catecholamine levels, increased glycogen content, decreased running capacity, and impaired recovery of force following an overuse injury.

Keywords: exercise; lengthening contraction; neuromuscular; vaping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders*
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Glycerol
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Nicotine / pharmacology


  • Nicotine
  • Glycerol
  • Aerosols