Nicotine-free e-cigarettes cause an increase in a special protein in the lungs that causes oxidative stress, inflammation and blood vessel collapse.
A new study by experts at Ruskin University used a common brand of e-cigarettes (eVape) to examine how nicotine-free liquids influence the integrity of the lung endothelial barrier, oxidative stress and the inflammatory profile. The results are published in the English-language journal “Microvascular Research”.
More and more people are using e-cigarettes
The use of e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, has increased significantly in recent years. One reason for this is certainly the widespread assumption that e-cigarettes are a harmless alternative to smoking, the team explains.
However, many recent studies have looked at the harm caused by nicotine-containing vapes, which was associated with an increase in the use of nicotine-free vapes, particularly among young people, the researchers continued.
The current study examined the effect of a nicotine-free vaporizer liquid (eVape liquids) on the cells in a model of the human lung.
To do this, the researchers purchased a total of three eVape liquids with the flavor of watermelon online. These contained 0 milligrams, 10 milligrams or 20 milligrams of nicotine in a 2 ml solution, which are the concentrations commonly used, the team explains.
Nicotine-free liquids are also harmful
In the studies, even nicotine-free liquids caused oxidative stress, which caused increased inflammation in the lungs and the collapse of blood vessels, the researchers report.
The harmful effects appear to be due to a protein called ARF6. This was not previously thought to be linked to smoking or lung damage, the team said. It is known that ARF6 plays a key role in regulating the so-called pulmonary microvascular system.
Pro-oxidative and pro-inflammatory effects
Overall, the results suggest that nicotine-free vaping has similar pro-oxidative and pro-inflammatory effects on human microvascular endothelial cells as vape liquid with nicotine, explains study author Dr. Havovi Chichger in a press release.
ARF6 also appears to be an important regulator in the induced damage to blood vessels. “However, since the market is currently not well regulated, it was difficult to assess which chemical substance had the greatest impact on vascular function,” said Dr. Chichger.
Further research is now necessary to examine in more detail the connection between the use of e-cigarettes with nicotine-free liquid and the possible development of lung damage. (as)