The toxic potential of a fourth-generation E-cigarette on human lung cell lines and tissue explants.
The use of electronic cigarettes (E-cigs) is rapidly increasing. The latest generation of E-cigs is highly customizable, allowing for high heating coil temperatures. The aim of this study was to assess the toxic potential of a fourth-generation E-cig. Aerosols generated from E-liquid with (24 mg/mL) and without nicotine, using a fourth-generation E-cig, were chemically analysed and compared with cigarette smoke (K3R4F). Human lung epithelial cell lines and distal lung tissue explants were exposed to E-cig vapour extract (EVE) and cigarette smoke extract for 24 hours and assessed for viability, inflammation, oxidative stress and genotoxicity. E-cig aerosols contained measurable levels of volatile organic compounds, aldehydes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, in general, to a much lesser extent than cigarette smoke. Higher levels of certain carbonyls, e.g. formaldehyde, were detected in the E-cig aerosols. EVEs decreased cell viability of BEAS-2B cells, whereas little effect was seen in A549 cells and distal lung tissue. The nicotine-containing EVE caused a greater decrease in cell viability and significant increase in DNA damage than the nicotine-free EVE. Increased cytotoxicity, reactive oxygen species production and genotoxicity were seen with cells and tissue exposed to cigarette smoke extract compared with EVEs. Although E-cig aerosols were less toxic than cigarette smoke, it was not benign. Moreover, the EVE containing nicotine was more toxic than the nicotine-free EVE. More research is needed on the short- and long-term health effects of vaping and the usage of newly emerging E-cig devices to evaluate better the potential negative effects of E-cigs on human health.