Nicotine-free e-cigarette vapor exposure stimulates Il6 and mucin production in human primary small airway epithelial cells

Shaan Gellatly, Nicole Pavelka, Taylor Crue, Kelly S. Schweitzer, Brian J. Day, Elysia Min, Mari Numata, Dennis R. Voelker, April Scruggs, Irina Petrache, Hong Wei Chu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) are relatively new devices that allow the user to inhale a heated and aerosolized solution. At present, little is known about their health effects in the human lung, particularly in the small airways (< 2 mm in diameter), a key site of airway obstruction and destruction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other acute and chronic lung conditions. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of e-cigarettes on human distal airway inflammation and remodeling. Methods: We isolated primary small airway epithelial cells from donor lungs without known lung disease. Small airway epithelial cells were cultured at air–liquid interface and exposed to 15 puffs vapor obtained by heating a commercially available e-cigarette solution (e-vapor) with or without nicotine. After 24 hrs of e-vapor exposure, basolateral and apical media as well as cell lysates were collected to measure the pleiotropic cytokine interleukin 6 (IL6) and MUC5AC, one of the major components in mucus. Results: Unlike the nicotine-containing e-vapor, nicotine-free e-vapor significantly increased the amount of IL6, which was coupled with increased levels of intracellular MUC5AC protein. Importantly, a neutralizing IL6 antibody (vs an IgG isotype control) significantly inhibited the production of MUC5AC induced by nicotine-free e-vapor. Conclusion: Our results suggest that human small airway epithelial cells exposed to nicotine-free e-vapor increase the inflammatory response and mucin production, which may contribute to distal lung airflow limitation and airway obstruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-185
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Inflammation Research
Volume13
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Electronic cigarette
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin 6
  • Mucus
  • Small airway epithelial cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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  • Cite this

    Gellatly, S., Pavelka, N., Crue, T., Schweitzer, K. S., Day, B. J., Min, E., Numata, M., Voelker, D. R., Scruggs, A., Petrache, I., & Chu, H. W. (2020). Nicotine-free e-cigarette vapor exposure stimulates Il6 and mucin production in human primary small airway epithelial cells. Journal of Inflammation Research, 13, 175-185. https://doi.org/10.2147/JIR.S244434