Biotech Updates

E-cigarette Use Alter Genes Involved in Airway Immune Defense

June 22, 2016

Smoking cigarettes alters dozens of genes important for immune defense and these changes likely increase the risk of infections. Now, University of North Carolina School of Medicine scientists report that electronic cigarettes alter those same genes, and more.

Their findings suggest that inhaling the vaporized flavored liquids in e-cigarettes has consequences on the level of epithelial cell gene expression. While, the discovery cannot yet be linked to long-term health effects of e-cigarette use or the risk of diseases associated with cigarette smoking, the findings suggest that e-cigarette use will not be harmless.

The team recruited non-smokers, smokers, and e-cigarette users for analysis of urine and blood samples for nicotine levels and biomarkers relevant to tobacco exposure. Using non-smokers as the baseline, the team found that smoking cigarettes decreased the gene expression of 53 genes important for the immune response of epithelial cells. Using e-cigarettes decreased the gene expression of 358 genes important for immune defense, including all 53 genes affected in the smoking group.

For more on this study, read the article at the UNC Healthcare website.