E-cigarettes are emerging products, often described as “reduced-risk” nicotine products or alternatives to combustible cigarettes. Many smokers switch to e-cigarettes to quit or significantly reduce smoking. However, no regulations for e-cigarettes are currently into force, so that the quality and safety of e-liquids is not necessarily guaranteed. We exposed primary human bronchial epithelial cells of two different donors to vapor of e-cigarette liquid with or without nicotine, vapor of the carrier substances propylene glycol and glycerol as well as to mainstream smoke of K3R4F research cigarettes. The exposure was done in a CULTEX® RFS compact module, allowing the exposure of the cells at the air-liquid interface. 24 h post-exposure, cell viability and oxidative stress levels in the cells were analyzed. We found toxicological effects of e-cigarette vapor and the pure carrier substances, whereas the nicotine concentration did not have an effect on the cell viability. The viability of mainstream smoke cigarette exposed cells was 4.5–8 times lower and the oxidative stress levels 4.5–5 times higher than those of e-cigarette vapor exposed cells, depending on the donor. Our experimental setup delivered reproducible data and thus provides the opportunity for routine testing of e-cigarette liquids to ensure safety and quality for the user.
1 Cultex Laboratories GmbH, Feodor-Lynen-Str. 21, 30625 Hannover, Germany
2 Institute of Pathology, KRH Klinikum Nordstadt, Haltenhoffstr. 41, 30167 Hannover, Germany
3 Department of Thoracic Surgery, Bielefeld Evangelical Hospital, Burgsteig 13, 33617 Bielefeld, Germany
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 March 2015 / Revised: 31 March 2015 / Accepted: 1 April 2015 / Published: 8 April 2015