iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
For those of you who take pride in vaping, and calling it a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, here is a small reality check.
New research indicates the chemicals found in e-cigarettes disrupt the gut barrier and trigger inflammation in the body, potentially leading to a variety of health concerns.
Touted by makers as a “healthy” alternative to traditional cigarettes, these e-cigarettes have been all the rage with the younger generation.
However, according to the researchers, including two Indian-origin, chemicals used for vaping break down zipper-like junctions between cells in the gut, leading to chronic inflammation and potential for other health concerns.
In the study, published on January 5, 2021, in the journal iScience, Soumita Das, Ph.D., associate professor of pathology, and Pradipta Ghosh, MD, professor of cellular and molecular medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues, found that chronic use of nicotine-free e-cigarettes led to a “leaky gut,” in which microbes and other molecules seep out of the intestines, resulting in chronic inflammation.
Such inflammation can contribute to a variety of diseases and conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease, dementia, certain cancers, atherosclerosis, liver fibrosis, diabetes and arthritis.
“This is the first study that demonstrates how chronic exposure to e-cigarettes increases the gut’s susceptibility to bacterial infections, leading to chronic inflammation and other health concerns,” said the researcher, said Das.
“Given the importance of the gut barrier in the maintenance of the body’s immune homeostasis, the findings offer valuable insight into the potential long-term harmful effects chronic use of e-cigarettes on our health,” Das added.
The stem cells differentiated into the four different cell types that make up the gut lining. The team then exposed the organoids to e-cigarette liquid-vapor, mimicking the frequency of a chronic vaper.
They noted that epithelial tight conjunction markers, which are zipper-like proteins that form the gut’s first physical barrier, began to break or loosen, causing pathogens from the vapor to seep into the surrounding immune system, wreaking havoc on protective epithelial cells that lie just beneath.
Such cells act as a defense against infection by clearing pathogenic microbes and initiating certain immune responses in the body. When exposed to the e-cigarette liquid, the cells were quickly overwhelmed, unable to effectively clear pathogens, resulting in gut inflammation.
“Anything we eat or drink, our lifestyle choices in other words, has the ability to impact our gut microbes, the gut barrier and overall health. Now we know that what we smoke, such as e-cigarettes, negatively impacts it as well,” a researcher said.
Ghosh said damage to the gut lining may be reversible over time if the inciting factor, in this case e-cigarette use, is eliminated, but the effects of chronic inflammation upon other organs, such as the heart or brain, may be irreversible.
In the future, Ghosh said she and colleagues plan to look at different flavorings of e-cigarettes to determine what effects they might have on the gut.