E-cigarettes suppress the immune system and heighten bacterial virulence, according to a new study. The new study is published in the Journal of Molecular Medicine in Jan. 25 by researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System.
“This study shows that e-cigarette vapour is not benign — at high doses it can directly kill lung cells, which is frightening,” senior author Laura Crotty Alexander said in a press release. “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 vapour daily leads to changes in the inflammatory milieu inside the airways.”
Crotty Alexander, who is a staff physician at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System and assistant clinical professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine, also reports that the research team observed that exposure to e-cigarette vapours for one hour a day, five days a week, for four weeks increased inflammatory markers or signs of full-body inflammation by up to 10 percent in mice.
However, the researchers admit that they do not know which lung and systemic illnesses will be caused by the inflammatory changes brought by inhaling e-cigarette vapour. Nevertheless, the team knows that e-cigarette vapour inhalation will cause disease eventually.
Upon studying the mice, the experts have noticed that the changes in the animals’ airways and blood were similar to the ones observed with people with cancer or inflammatory lung diseases. Additionally, e-cigarette vapour boosted bacterial pathogens.
The Staphylococcus aureus bacteria formed biofilms, adhered to and invaded the airway cells after the exposure to e-cigarette vapour. The researchers warn that the bacteria became resistant to human antimicrobial peptides.
Apart from that, the bacteria also became more harmful in pneumonia. Interestingly, all mice infected with normal methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) survived, whereas 25 percent of mice infected with MRSA before e-cigarette vapour exposure died.
Apparently, the results were the same with e-liquids from different manufacturers. The team confirmed that this is not limited to one formula or brand.