E-Cigarette Vapor Found to Impair Activity of Vital Lung Immune Cells

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New research reported negative impact of e-cigarette on functions of immune cells in the lungs, which protect respiratory tract from harmful particles

E-cigarettes have gained significant traction since recent past due to which many researchers are focused on understanding the long-term implications of vaping on human health. New study conducted by team at the University of Birmingham reported that e-cigarette vapor can damage key immune cells in the lung resulting into various complications. The new research was published in the journal Thorax in August 2018.

The study was conducted on lung tissue samples in a laboratory. Results of the experiment reported that alveolar macrophages – a type of immune cell that functions to clear harmful particles from respiratory tract – displayed impaired activity when exposed to artificially vaped e-cigarette condensate. Furthermore, it was reported that exposure to the vaped condensate boosted production of free radicals and increased cell death. These effects were noted to be even more prominent when the condensate contained nicotine. “Importantly, exposure of macrophages to [e-cigarette vapour condensate] induced many of the same cellular and functional changes in [alveolar macrophage] function seen in cigarette smokers and patients with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease),” the researchers mentioned in their study.

However, these results have only been demonstrated in cellular studies in laboratory conditions. Replicating the results in real-life conditions might be challenging. Moreover, duration or dose of e-cigarette vapor leading to these results in human subjects is unknown. “In terms of cancer causing molecules in cigarette smoke, as opposed to cigarette vapor, there are certainly reduced numbers of carcinogens,” explains lead author on the new study, David Thickett. “They are safer in terms of cancer risk, but if you vape for 20 or 30 years and this can cause COPD, then that’s something we need to know about.”

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