Nav: Home

E-cigarette vapor boosts superbugs and dampens immune system

January 26, 2016

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System report data suggesting that e-cigarettes are toxic to human airway cells, suppress immune defenses and alter inflammation, while at the same time boosting bacterial virulence. The mouse study is published January 25 by the Journal of Molecular Medicine.

"This study shows that e-cigarette vapor is not benign -- at high doses it can directly kill lung cells, which is frightening," said senior author Laura E. Crotty Alexander, MD, staff physician at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System and assistant clinical professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine. "We already knew that inhaling heated chemicals, including the e-liquid ingredients nicotine and propylene glycol, couldn't possibly be good for you. This work confirms that inhalation of e-cigarette vapor daily leads to changes in the inflammatory milieu inside the airways."

Crotty Alexander reported the preliminary results of this work at the American Thoracic Society annual meetings in 2014 and 2015. But now her team has also seen their findings hold up in mice. Inflammatory markers -- signs of full-body inflammation -- in the airways and blood of mice that inhaled e-cigarette vapors for one hour a day, five days a week, for four weeks were elevated by 10 percent compared to unexposed mice.

"We don't know specifically which lung and systemic diseases will be caused by the inflammatory changes induced by e-cigarette vapor inhalation, but based on clinical reports of acute toxicities and what we have found in the lab, we believe that they will cause disease in the end," Crotty Alexander said. "Some of the changes we have found in mice are also found in the airways and blood of conventional cigarette smokers, while others are found in humans with cancer or inflammatory lung diseases."

Conversely, bacterial pathogens exposed to e-cigarette vapor benefited. Specifically, Staphylococcus aureus bacteria were better able to form biofilms, adhere to and invade airway cells and resist human antimicrobial peptides after exposure to e-cigarette vapor.

E-cigarette vapor extract-exposed bacteria were also more virulent in a mouse model of pneumonia. All mice infected with normal methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), an antibiotic-resistant "superbug," survived. Meanwhile, 25 percent of mice infected with MRSA pre-exposed to e-cigarette vapor died.

The results were consistent with e-liquids from seven different manufacturers, demonstrating that the findings are not limited to one formula or brand.

Crotty Alexander and team also recently reported that MRSA bacteria exposed to conventional cigarette smoke are more resistant to killing by the immune system than unexposed bacteria.
-end-
Study co-authors include John H. Hwang, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System and UC San Diego; Matthew Lyes, VA San Diego Healthcare System and Duke University; Katherine Sladewski, Denzil P. Mathew, Alexander Moshensky, VA San Diego Healthcare System; Shymaa Enany, Suez Canal University and VA San Diego Healthcare System; Elisa K. McEachern, VA San Diego Healthcare System and Weill Cornell Medical College; Soumita Das, David T. Pride, Weg M. Ongkeko, UC San Diego; and Sagar Bapat, Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

This research was funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

University of California - San Diego

Related Immune System Articles:

The immune system may explain skepticism towards immigrants
There is a strong correlation between our fear of infection and our skepticism towards immigrants.
New insights on how pathogens escape the immune system
The bacterium Salmonella enterica causes gastroenteritis in humans and is one of the leading causes of food-borne infectious diseases.
Understanding how HIV evades the immune system
Monash University (Australia) and Cardiff University (UK) researchers have come a step further in understanding how the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) evades the immune system.
Carbs during workouts help immune system recovery
Eating carbohydrates during intense exercise helps to minimise exercise-induced immune disturbances and can aid the body's recovery, QUT research has found.
A new model for activation of the immune system
By studying a large protein (the C1 protein) with X-rays and electron microscopy, researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark have established a new model for how an important part of the innate immune system is activated.
Guards of the human immune system unraveled
Dendritic cells represent an important component of the immune system: they recognize and engulf invaders, which subsequently triggers a pathogen-specific immune response.
How our immune system targets TB
Researchers have seen, for the very first time, how the human immune system recognizes tuberculosis (TB).
How a fungus inhibits the immune system of plants
A newly discovered protein from a fungus is able to suppress the innate immune system of plants.
A new view of the immune system
Pathogen epitopes are fragments of bacterial or viral proteins. Nearly a third of all existing human epitopes consist of two different fragments.
TB tricks the body's immune system to allow it to spread
Tuberculosis tricks the immune system into attacking the body's lung tissue so the bacteria are allowed to spread to other people, new research from the University of Southampton suggests.

Related Immune System Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...